By September 11, 2017 Read More →

Raleigh County fire levy director recalls journey to pick up World Trade Center steel

By JORDAN NELSON

The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Raleigh County Fire Levy Director Kevin Price recalls the day in 2011 when he and two of his friends hopped into their 8-foot-bed pickup truck and made the journey to New York City to pick up a piece of the World Trade Center, a piece which is now displayed at Jim Word Memorial Park in Beckley.

Beckley’s September 11th Memorial on Neville Street.
(Register-Herald photo by Brad Davis)

The piece represents the day the nation changed forever – Sept. 11, 2001, when attacks were made on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., along with a plane crashing in Pennsylvania when passengers interrupted hijackers’ further plans.

Price said the day when 343 first responders lost their lives is one he will never forget. Lives of those, he said, were those of his fellow workers.

Price was a member of Beckley Fire Department when he and former Fire Chief Billie Trump worked with Beckley Police Department to form a memorial honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11. Trump came across a website where an online application could be filled out for the city to be awarded a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.

Price said if a town was in the process of building a memorial, then that made the town eligible for a piece of steel.

“I remember when we found out Beckley met all the qualifications for the award,” he said. “A woman called and asked us if we’d rather have a piece that was just straight, or if we wanted a piece with character.

“We said we wanted character, of course.”

Price said he and two others made a journey through the night to NYC in a pickup truck to get the steel.

“We had to be there at 7 in the morning,” he said. “So we got there about 3 in the morning, slept for a bit, then went to go pick up that special piece.”

Weighing in at 1,097 pounds, the piece was labeled 134b. Price said in that moment he knew this was something great for the city of Beckley.

“We backed up that pickup truck and out comes this huge forklift to place this enormous piece of steel in our possession. We were so fortunate.”

Price explained the nervousness he felt when going through the process of figuring out how to display it.

“We had to mount it on this huge piece of granite,” he said. “We wanted it to look and be displayed as perfectly as it could.”

He said the men in charge of mounting the steel on the granite worried about how it would work together, but discovered the two pieces were almost perfectly symmetrical.

“It was only about two-tenths of an inch off,” Price said. “Isn’t that something?”

He said the sacrifices first responders made during the 9/11 attacks saved thousands of lives. “We wanted the city to display the piece of steel in honor and memory of those who saved the lives of others.

“I am honored to have it here, and I know many others are as well,” Price said. “When I drive by it every day, I look and I see it, and I remember the loss our nation suffered. But I also remember it as a time we became a true one nation under God.

“And that, that was truly the cool part.”

He said it was a day the nation put all divisions aside.

“There was nothing separating any of us,” Price said. “It didn’t matter if you were black, white, gay, straight, rich, or poor. There were no divisions. We all came together.

“Americans are good to come to the aid of our fellow man. We always step up.”

The memorial steel was dedicated in 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Now, in 2017, Price said he still sees people walk up to the piece of steel and bow their heads to pay their respects.

“And that is what it’s for. The country will never forget. West Virginia will never forget. That’s the one thing here in southern West Virginia that shows the people of the state they will never forget.”

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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