Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One unveiled and dedicated its 9/11 Memorial Garden on Monday morning at the department’s headquarters at 10222 Bujacich Rd. NW.
The public memorial commemorates the sacrifices made during the tragic events of September 11, 2001, as well as honors the innocent lives lost that day.
The Memorial Garden is anchored by a 986-pound piece of steel recovered from Ground Zero. The artifact, which was originally above the 50th floor in one of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, is mounted on a metal platform. In the base sits a container with a Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One challenge coin, a Gig Harbor Professional Firefighters challenge coin and a 9/11 memorial coin. Other key elements include a dedication pedestal and six memorial plaques, one for each site involved in the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil.
The steel artifact’s journey from New York to Gig Harbor began in 2009, with an application to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by the Gig Harbor Fire Department. After being approved, a contingent of local firefighters set out on a cross-country trip to retrieve the piece of the nation’s history.
Since the firefighters’ return, the design for the garden has undergone multiple iterations. An architectural firm was brought in to create a plan for the garden with a cost estimate of $265,000. When fundraising brought in $10,000, after extensive contemplation, it was decided to move the project back to fire district headquarters and proceed with the original, simpler concept.
In October 2016, Dale Togstad broke ground on the Memorial Garden. Over the next year he worked tirelessly on the project, coordinating all labor and donations.
“With the theme of ‘Never Forget,’ the 9/11 Memorial Garden provides an enduring tribute to those who perished that fateful day, those who put themselves in harm’s way in the service of others, and to reflect on the acts of courage and selflessness that brought us together as a nation,” the department said in a release. “This treasured piece of steel will now have a permanent home not just in landscape, but in the hearts of our community.”
Various donors who gave of their time, money and services for the memorial included IAFF Local 3390, Gig Harbor Firefighters’ Association, 911 group, Dean Olive Concrete, Miles Sand & Gravel, Mutual Materials, Rainier Electric, Purdy Topsoil, Pape & Sons, United Rentals, Interwest Metals, Rosedale Gardens and Coverall Stone.