By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
Tyler Benjamin doesn?t remember much about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, but knows the importance of remembering those that fell on that day.
Now the exhibit coordinator of the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Memorial, which will be displayed at the Washington County Fairgrounds on July 15-17, Benjamin said that he was 12 years old on the day which History now remembers that 19 hijackers took control of four commercial airliners en route to California. Two planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York, causing them to collapse. A third hit the Pentagon building in Arlington County, Va. The fourth crash landed in a field near Shanksville, Penn. The attacks caused the deaths of 2,996 people and the injuries of nearly 6,000 others. Weeks later the death toll climbed to over 6,000. In later days and weeks, it would be confirmed the incident was a terrorist attack from the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. The United States would declare a War on Terror, leading to military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Benjamin recalls that the school administration didn?t tell the students until noon and then sent everyone home.
?it is important that people don?t forget what happened on 9/11,? Benjamin said. ?It is important for people to understand why the world is the way it is.?
Benjamin said that the display is a 53-foot trailer that folds out to a 1,000 square foot exhibit, which contains artifacts from the World Trade Center site and from the 9/11 attacks. The display include steel from the towers, a piece of aluminum facade and some pieces found in the debris. It also includes documentary videos and recordings of first responder radio transmissions. Firefighters Tom Petti and Tom Veverosa, who served during the attacks, will be touring with the display and will be available to talk about their experiences that day.
The exhibit started in 2013 as a mobile tribute to the attacks and to founder Stephen Siller. Benjamin said the display has visited 32 states and so far over 250,000 people have visited the exhibit.
On 9/11 Siller was driving to meet his three older brothers at the Glenwood Country Club Golf Course in New Jersey, so the ?perfect foursome? could play a round of golf. A fire buff even before he joined the Fire Department in 1995, the realization of a lifelong dream, the West Brighton native was listening to his scanner when news of the World Trade Center disaster came across. He called his wife, Sally, telling her to let his brothers know he would meet them later; he was going to get his gear and join his company, Squad 1. According to his brother, Frank, his family believes he drove his own car from Squad 1?s Brooklyn firehouse to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, where traffic was at a standstill. He probably ran through the tunnel and was picked up by Engine 224, and after arriving at the disaster site most likely hooked up with his squad. Siller and 10 other members of Squad 1 did not survive.
Veterans, military and emergency personnel have the opportunity to visit the fair and memorial for free on July 15 and must have valid credentials at the gate.
The festivities will begin with an escort starting from the Ainsworth, Iowa 4-Corners truck stop to the Washington County Fairgrounds on Saturday, July 14 starting at 2 p.m. Organizers encourage people to line the streets to welcome the mobile museum and firefighters. Police, EMTs, firefighters and American Legion riders will lead the escort.
For more information please contact Washington County Fair Board Member Carol Horning at 319-653-2480.