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Monument Now Complete, Kept Under Wraps Until 9/11 Anniversary

Fort Lee Mayor wants the memorial in Constitution Park to remain “a bit of a surprise”

This September 11 is the 10th anniversary of the tragic events that have come to be known simply as “9/11.” And fittingly, Fort Lee will dedicate its first 9/11 memorial in that day.

Last week Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich announced that the monument—built from a girder and other pieces of the World Trade Center donated to the borough by the Port Authority—has been completed. But that doesn’t mean residents can expect a sneak peak before the dedication ceremony.

“Our monument has now been erected,” Sokolich said. “It’s under wraps because we’re trying to keep it as a bit of a surprise for September 11.”

In March, shortly after the roughly 12-foot steel girder arrived in Fort Lee, Sokolich said the monument would feature the several ton column standing straight up with a thick steel plate—one of hundreds that lined the perimeter of the base of the World Trade Center—tilted in front of it and featuring a placard identifying what the various pieces represent. Sokolich said there would also be four plaques placed around the monument, each devoted to Fort Lee’s own first responders, a wrought iron gate, a paved path and a planting area surrounding the entire monument.

He also said the memorial would feature what he called “Fort Lee’s first eternal light,” a high-powered, outdoor halogen light secured at the bottom of the girder and lighting it from the inside, “so you’ll see it at various holes in the girder, and then at the end it’ll just spew into the night sky.”

Michael Maresca of the Fort Lee Department of Public Works, who along with Sokolich and Councilmen Jan Goldberg, Harvey Sohmer, and others formed the mayor’s 9/11 Committee, told the Fort Lee Suburbanite that the water fountain and surrounding trees already in the area will make the entire memorial that much more beautiful.

"We did the park over and a lot of people come through here, and it's really a beautiful park, and we felt that was the right setting for this piece," Maresca said.

In addition to the monument in Constitution Park, smaller sections of steel from a separate girder the Port Authority cut into pieces for Fort Lee, will be installed at each of the borough's emergency service locations—the police station, Fort Lee's four firehouses and the Fort Lee Ambulance Corps.

“It’s amazing for those of us who have been on this assignment from the beginning,” Sokolich said last week in announcing that the monument was finished. “It feels like yesterday when we were six or seven months away.”

But in fact the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is more like six weeks away, and Sokolich wants the public to save the date: Sunday, Sept. 11, at 10 a.m. in Constitution Park.

“It will be a very fitting and timely and respectful memorial dedicated not only to obviously the tragedy and the memory of the tragedy, but saluting our own emergency service agencies here in the Borough of Fort Lee,” he said. “That would include police, fire, ambulance and emergency management—celebrating and congratulating them on the stellar job that they performed on September 11 and the days that followed.”

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