Raleigh, N.C. — A piece of steel from the World Trade Center destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks was at the center of a memorial service in Raleigh Sunday morning.
Local first responders, county officials and the public were on hand to welcome a 14-by-14 inch, 120-pound piece of steel from the World Trade Center on a national tour. The memorial took place at 11 a.m. in Nash Square, at Hargett and Dawson streets.
"I'm proud that Wake County can be part of this momentous celebration honoring the lives of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001," Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble said in a statement. "This piece of steel is a part of our history and a symbol of our ability to rise above tragedy stronger."
Volunteers with the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund are taking the piece of World Trade Center steel on a two-week, 3,100-mile national tour.
The fund is named after New York firefighter Terry Farrell, who was one of 343 firefighters killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. The nonprofit raises money to the families of firefighters in need.
The steel, which came from an interior stairwell in Tower 2, will become part of a permanent exhibit at the San Diego Fire Museum.
"We are making sure that we will never forget what happened on that day," said organizer Michael O'Connor.
Former NYPD detective Mike Korsh arrived at ground zero just as the second tower fell. He helped to identify victims, including first responders.
He said Sunday that the death toll from the 9/11 attacks continues to rise.
"We've had over a thousand first responders nationwide die now of illnesses related to the 9/11 attacks," he said.
Locally, Chatham County is one of 1,100 sites across the U.S. chosen to receive 9/11 artifacts amid the 10th anniversary of the attacks this September. Chatham County received a 19-foot-long beam from the World Trade Center and plans to make it the centerpiece of a memorial.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the 2001 terror attacks by 19 al Qaeda operatives in four hijacked airplanes.