Ten years ago, then-President George W. Bush held up the badge of George Howard, a police officer who died at the World Trade Center, during a session of Congress. The badge, Bush said, was "a reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end."
This year, the memory of that same officer — via his family — will leave another reminder in Huntington Beach.
The city's police and fire associations have facilitated the delivery of two steel girders from the World Trade Center and plan to convert them to a 9/11 memorial outside City Hall. The first piece arrived last week from the New York-New Jersey Port Authority, and the Huntington officials have invited the officer's son, New York firefighter Chris Howard, to present the second girder at 10 a.m. Saturday at City Hall.
"It's very touching," said Kreg Muller, president of the Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn. "I feel honored for our city to be able to receive two pieces of the World Trade Center. It's symbolism that changed the world, really."
Huntington Beach police officers went to New York City after 9/11 to aid New York safety personnel in rescue and recovery efforts. In May 2002, a group of officers met Howard at a memorial ceremony in Washington, D.C., according to Officer Jack Paholski.
Earlier this year, Howard contacted the Huntington Beach officers and invited them to apply to receive pieces of the World Trade Center, Muller said.
The police and fire associations applied to the Fire Department and Port Authority and succeeded with both.
Howard could not be reached for comment.
At an American Legion ceremony Sunday at Pier Plaza, the associations plan to begin a fundraising drive for the 9/11 memorial. Community members will also be invited to submit designs for the installation, with the only criteria being that the design must incorporate the two girders, mention the locations of the 9/11 attacks and avoid any religious connotations.
"It could be a high school student who was just touched by 9/11," Muller said. "It could be anybody."
The girder that arrived last week is about 3 feet long, with four spikes on one end connected to a chunk of concrete.
Dennis Hashin, the police union's chief financial officer, said it wasn't clear where in the World Trade Center the girder had resided.
Darrin Witt, the president of Huntington's firefighters association, said he and his colleagues have a longstanding tradition of traveling to New York for St. Patrick's Day and knew some of the responders who perished on 9/11.
"These are very brave men and women," Witt said. "From our point of view, it's an extreme honor that we've been able to get these pieces of steel and create this monument to remember them by."
How to Donate
Checks payable to "HBPOF 9/11 memorial fund" can be sent to P.O. Box 896, Huntington Beach, CA, 92648. Design concepts for the 9/11 memorial should also be mailed to that address by Dec. 15. For more information, call (714) 842-8851 or visit http://www.hbpoa.org.
If You Go
What: Patriot Day Ceremony
Who: American Legion Huntington Beach Post 133, with representatives from the City Council and Fire, Police and Marine Safety departments
Where: Pier Plaza, Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach
When: 6 p.m. Sunday