"It's very powerful to look at," says New York Assemblyman Ed Ra, of the twisted steel beams that were saved from Ground Zero and delivered to in the weeks leading up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Ra, who represents West Hempstead, as well as Franklin Square and part of Malverne, says the beams "mean something different for everyone."
"It's a reminder of so many different emotions and a tangible piece of that building, that day," especially for the many families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, but have no grave to visit.
This is why Ra is currently working with members of the West Hempstead community to try to secure a piece of the World Trade Center wreckage for their local 9/11 memorial.
In September, Ra spoke with Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Community Support and Civic Association, who said a resident had asked why other communities had received the beams, but not West Hempstead, which lost Their names are etched on a plaque that stands inside Halls Pond Park, but Norton is hoping to add a piece of the Twin Towers to the memorial.
"West Hempstead really did lose a significant number of people...citizens who were involved in their community and who are sorely missed," Ra said.
"It is a great idea and will add something nice to this community," said West Hempstead resident Susan Ainbender Carroll, whose son, , died at the age of 25 when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
Ainbender Carroll recently moved back to West Hemptead after spending time in Florida, but her son was born and raised here. He was a graduate and star athlete for West Hempstead High School, and had many friends in the community.
"I know he would have liked it too," she added.
Ra reached out to other local officials, including Sen. Dean Skelos, who offered his support, and gathered letters from the West Hempstead Chamber of Commerce, Community Support Association and Fire Department, all requesting a beam of steel.
He told Patch,"Our best bet is to get as many people together as possible to write letters to present a unified request to the Port Authority [of New York and New Jersey],"which is in charge of the World Trade Center debris.
The Port Authority recovered 13,000 linear feet of steel from Ground Zero, which it has been storing inside an airplane hanger at JFK Airport, but the supply is nearing its end.
Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, said the agency received requests from groups throughout the United States and seven foreign countries for pieces of the steel, and have already granted 1,300. (New York and New Jersey received the most.)
He told Patch that the Port Authority has received West Hempstead's request but they are not committing any steel at this time.
"Any request we're getting now, we are holding onto because we are not sure if we will have enough steel to accomodate them," he explained. Coleman said they are still waiting for some groups whose requests were approved months ago to pick up their beams, which he expects will happen in the next few weeks. West Hempstead would most likely not learn whether their request will be honored until 2012.
The West Hempstead Community Support Association is encouraging individuals to also write letters to Ra's office expressing their desire to acquire a beam for their community to "create a lasting memorial to all of our residents who lost their lives on that terrible day." (See below for details.)
So far, Ra's office has received two dozen letters from residents, including some from those who lost loved ones on 9/11.
He says, "We're pretty hopeful we'll be able to get this done."
Residents wishing to participate in the letter writing campaign for the WTC steel should send a letter to:
Assemblyman Edward Ra
925 Hempstead Turnpike
Franklin Square, N.Y. 11010