The piece of concrete, nearly 50 years old, was once part the foundation of the World Trade Center, a slurry wall designed to keep the waters of the Hudson River from permeating the ground beneath the Twin Towers.
Utah Fallen Warriors Memorial founder and executive director Raette Belcher and her husband Dave have been touring with the artifact, which passed through several states before arriving in Utah last month. The piece is scheduled to make several more stops around Utah in the next two weeks before arriving again at its intended final destination, the Fort Douglas Military Museum in Salt Lake City around Oct. 21.
At the museum, the piece, which is officially known as “UT6” is expected to be placed outdoors in a special memorial, surrounded by landscaping, walkways, and benches. The concrete piece itself cost $180,000, and organizers are hoping the month-long tour throughout Utah will help recoup that expense, as well as help fund the construction of the memorial at Fort Douglas.
Utah is one of just two sites outside of New York City chosen to receive such a large artifact from Ground Zero; a second similar artifact will also be housed in Kansas City.
The Utah Fallen Warriors Memorial project is designed to honor both law enforcement officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, as well as the military personnel who have died in related conflicts since that time.
According to Dave Belcher, a total of 73 soldiers from Utah, or with Utah ties, have lost their lives in combat-related incidents since 9/11. The Utah Fallen Warriors Memorial is dedicated to them, in addition to all Utah military personnel who have served since World War I, he said.
“That’s what this is all about,” he said.
Raette Belcher said the concrete piece, originally located seven stories underground, was chosen because it withstood the 9/11 attacks without being damaged.
“It stood firm in our nation’s soil,” she said, likening that firmness to the country’s innate strength. “We’re a strong country. We help each other out when we need it.”
“We don’t break, we pick ourselves up and keep on going, united and together,” said Moab resident Samantha Bonsack, who was instrumental in helping with the events associated with the artifact’s Moab appearance, including a special escort through town by motorcycle riders and local law enforcement and emergency response agencies.
The Belchers spoke about the artifact as it was being shown to the public at the Old Spanish Trail Arena parking lot south of Moab the afternoon of Oct. 2. They were joined by members of local American Legion Post 54 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10900. Ron Irvin played “taps” on his trumpet before the veterans performed a 21-gun salute.
“I think this is a monument to our fortitude and a symbol of your unity while honoring our warriors, our first responders, law enforcement, and fire service abroad as well as in our own country,” Moab Police Chief Mike Navarre told the crowd of about 100 people who gathered at the arena Wednesday evening. “This monument, which will find its final resting place at Fort Douglas, will be there as a remembrance to all that gave and to all that continue to give so that we may enjoy our freedom.”
The Belchers, who live in Park City, said they first became involved with the project when Raette joined a dinner meeting of “Gold Star Mothers,” a group of women who had lost children in various military conflicts since the Gulf War. Dave Belcher, who is a co-owner of Mountain Crane Service, said he added his support, which has grown into a major commitment.
They expressed their appreciation for the many private donations that have already been made toward the cost of the project, and invited others to contribute.
The artifact, which rested atop a flatbed trailer pulled by a semi truck, also came into Moab for an hour-long appearance at Grand County High School the following morning. Dozens of GCHS students admired the stone block and posed for pictures with it. They also climbed on and around an old Army tank that was also towed along as part of the display.
At about 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, the artifact was given a rousing send-off through Moab. Various emergency vehicles, with blaring sirens and flashing lights flashing, along with a motorcycle escort, led the artifact out of town en route to its next scheduled stop at Price.
For additional information about the project, visit www.utahsfallenwarriors.com. Donations and pledges may also be made through that site or at the Fort Douglas Military Museum’s home page at fortdouglas.org.