The Town of Sunset Beach and the Committee to Honor America’s Veterans-Sunset Beach (CHAV) unveiled the new 9/11 memorial sculpture on Sunday, Sept. 11, the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The sculpture, which is in the Sunset Beach Town Park, contains a piece of steel from one of the Twin Towers.
More than 100 people gathered at the park to celebrate the unveiling of the monument and remember and honor both the lives lost and the courage displayed on September 11, 2001.
The sculpture was designed by artist and sculptor David McCune. The sculpture was commissioned by the town and CHAV “to pay homage not only to those who perished [on 9/11], but to who they left behind,” CHAV 1st Vice Chair Karen Joseph said in her opening remarks.
“As we unveil our monument to the good men and women and children who lost their lives 21 years ago this morning, we remember and we will never forget the nearly 3,000 people taken so cruelly,” Joseph continued. “We honor the courage of those who put themselves in harm’s way to save people they never knew.”
Sunset Beach Town Administrator Lisa Anglin thanked CHAV for their collaboration with the town on the monument project, noting that the 9/11 Memorial monument will be a “great complement” to the park’s Veterans Memorial, which it sits adjacent to.
Anglin added that the monument, in addition to honoring those impacted by the 9/11 attacks, will serve as an educational resource for the community.
“Our town park has become a peaceful place of serenity that it was intended to be,” she said. “Now with information in the Veterans Memorial and our monument to the events of 9/11, I hope this will become a place of education. I hope that teachers and parents will bring their children here and teach them about the wars that were fought for their freedom and the truth of this monument.”
Sunset Beach Fire Chief Paul Hasenmeier introduced Rick Gimbl, retired New York City Firefighter who responded on 9/11. Gimbl joined FDNY in 1981 and was assigned to engine 75 out of The Bronx before being transferred to the Special Operations Command where he was trained in “all weapons of mass destruction,” Hasenmeier said. Gimbl is a volunteer firefighter with the Sunset Beach Fire Department, as well.
“As an FDNY firefighter, he was at Ground Zero where 17 members of his firehouse were lost that day,” Hasenmeier said. “He spent numerous days working at Ground Zero to locate his brothers.”
Gimbl, who is now the president of the FDNY Carolinas Retirees Association, stressed the importance of Americans never forgetting the tragedy of 9/11.
“We can’t forget that date, September 11, 2001 — 21 years ago a terrorist attack on our nation, where in New York alone we lost 2,753 lives. 343 of that number were firefighters,” Gimbl said. “Hearts broken, children orphaned, devastation everywhere, yet we cleared away rubble, looking for our brothers and civilians with broken hearts, never to be the same.”
Gimbl also stressed the importance of remembering the survivors, in particular the firefighters, police officers, EMTs and other first responders.
Lou DeVita, CHAV assistant treasurer, explained how the piece of steel from the Twin Towers was obtained for the town’s new monument.
“The City of New York saw fit to approve the request of the Committee to Honor America’s Veterans, on behalf of the Town of Sunset Beach, and we were presented with a piece of steel from the fallen towers that were destroyed in the attacks,” DeVita said. “The long-range objective of our request was to create a permanent 9/11 memorial in our town park, with its beautiful and tranquil surroundings, so that we would never forget.”
On September 11, 2021, the town was also presented a FDNY 343 helmet, which was on display during the ceremony. The number 343 honors the FDNY firefighters who died because of the terror attacks.
The helmet, along with 9/11 heroes and honors flags, have been on display at Sunset Beach Town Hall since last year, but will now be permanently displayed in the Sunset Beach fire station, DeVita added.
Designer of the monument David McCune thanked the committee and the town for the opportunity to design the monument, calling it “an honor and a privilege.”
“Lest we forget the heroes and victims of 9/11, the committee’s vision for the 9/11 sculpture project located at the town park at Sunset Beach, North Carolina, was to create a sculpture that captures September 11, 2001, and the current New York skyline,” McCune said.
Dennis Ryan, of the Wilmington Police Department Pipe Band, provided bagpipe music to start the ceremony, and again as CHAV members unveiled the monument.
Dylan Phillips is the editor of the Brunswick Beacon. Feel free to reach out with comments, questions and tips at email@example.com.
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