Building the 9/11 Reflection Park
West Pierce Fire & Rescue (WPFR) has a piece of steel from the World Trade Center proudly displayed in the center of the 9/11 Reflection Park, located in front of Station 31 in University Place. This artifact symbolizes and honors those lost on September 11, 2001 and has been a part of the community since 2012. The Port Authority of New York distributed more than 2,600 pieces of steel and other items to communities in all 50 states and 10 foreign nations between 2010-2016. These items help preserve the memory, heroism and sacrifice of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
When the opportunity to acquire the steel presented itself in 2011, WPFR jumped at the chance to be a recipient. By September 11th of following year, the steel had been brought back to its new home by WPFR firefighters and the 9/11 Reflection Park was not only a vision, but a reality. Five WPFR firefighters drove to New York to pick up the steel and created a journey of memories along the way. They brought it to WPFR’s headquarters station in University Place, where it needed a way to be displayed and enjoyed by the community. Upon their return, the 9/11 Reflection Park committee began and was comprised of WPFR employees, local business owners and community members.
This community park moved forward with the intent of breaking ground on July 4 and dedicated on September 11, 2012. With a lot of selfless hard work, volunteers and community support, the project moved at lightning speed and was completed on time, in just a few short months.
The symbolism within
When walking through the 9/11 Reflection Park, many items are eye catching because of their uniqueness and beauty. However, nearly every piece of the park has symbolism embedded into it to showcase the profound meaning of that tragic day, some of which include:
- The Flag of Honor lists the 2,977 lives lost
- There are 403 grooves in the “Weeping Wall” water feature, representing the fallen firefighters, paramedics and police officers
- On the backs of the benches surrounding the steel, the 343 names of the fallen firefighters are listed
- Under the trellis made of retired fire service ladders are the names of the 60 fallen police officers
- The five slats etched in the ground surrounding the steel represent the Pentagon
- Three crests are displays in the pedestal of the flag pavilion, recognizing the agencies more directly affected: FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- Two concrete steel “towers” sit below the steel and represent the twin towers, creating the centerpiece of the park
- Personalized brick pavers represent the donors of the park
A dedicated community
The 9/11 Reflection Park was funded purely by donations. From cash donations to buying personalized brick pavers, challenge coins and t-shirts, to in-kind donations made from local businesses and community members, this project was one shared by the entire community. Without their unwavering support, this park would not be the symbolic piece of history it is today.
Volunteers spent countless hours designing and building the park, while local elementary students visited to draw messages of thanks and hope in sidewalk chalk just prior to the dedication ceremony. The vision of the 9/11 Reflection Park is much more than a fire service commemoration, but one the entire community worked together to make a reality.