Spirit of Springfield details the origin of the new 9/11 memorial

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A nine-and-a-half-foot tall piece of the twin towers is the new centerpiece of Springfield’s newly renovated Riverfront Park.

The Journey from New York City to Riverfront Park took 11 years, and it almost didn’t happen. 22News explores how this monument came together.

President of Spirit of Springfield, Judy Matt said “We wrote letters. The first series of letters in 2008, and then we were rejected on two occasions.”

In 2008, At the urging of then-Fire Commissioner Gary Cassaneli, Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt was on a mission to obtain steel from the World Trade Center twin towers.

Her 30-year SOS Associate, Amy Barron-Burke wrote letters to The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to ask for a 9-11 steel artifact. Matt tore up the rejection letters; a fact she hid from Barron-Burke.

“She never knew I just kept ripping them up. I said ‘let’s send another letter.’ She just didn’t know. Because I just didn’t want her to be rejected for something this important,” said Matt.

Persistence paid off. By not taking “no” for an answer, the answer eventually became “yes.”

On September 8th, 2011, 10 years after the towers fell, the artifact arrived in Springfield on a flatbed trailer under police and first responder escort.

Salmon Studios in Florence developed an emotionally stirring design, incorporating the twin tower steel for Springfield’s permanent 9-11 memorial.

More than 300 thousand dollars in private local contributions paid for the sculpture. It took Salmon Studios months to engrave 498 names on the bronze arc behind the steel beam.

Judy said the memorial is at once spectacular and humbling, especially when viewed at night.

“They have two lights in the back of it that project lights onto this arc where the names are. And when you see it, it’s amazing It’s the twin towers. You see the twin towers,” said Matt.

Judy Matt told 22News this is the most important project Spirit of Springfield has ever worked on.

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