On his way to an attorney’s office to discuss the death of his brother the weekend before in a motorcycle accident, Mark Brown heard about the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. As a firefighter – and already in an emotional place – Brown was angry.
“It took out a big chunk of the fire department – 343 firefighters,” Brown said. “It all struck real hard with me.”
Ten years later, Brown saw online that pieces of the attack sites were to be made available to organizations such as fire departments. He sent the information to then-Lebanon Fire Chief Ted Caldwell.
“I thought we’d call them and get a little piece of marble or a little piece of something, we’d go through the process and see what happens,” Brown, who is now deputy chief of the Center Township Fire Department, said. “We wound up with a big ol’ chunk of metal.”
In August of 2016, the Port Authority of New York announced it had distributed more than 2,600 remnants of the Sept. 11 attacks to destinations around the world. There is at least one memorial in all 50 states. The only requirement was for recipients to include the pieces in a public display.
Lebanon received a section of a beam from the World Trade Center, as did many other applicants. It arrived in Indiana in early 2011. Then it was trucked up to the Boone County Courthouse in May of that year. It also stopped at Trader’s Point Christian Church on the way.
Many residents came out to see the beam as it sat on the lawn.
"The fire service took the biggest hit of the emergency services that day,” LFD firefighter Jason Lee said. He and Caldwell welcomed the piece at the Indianapolis Fire Department, along with two other pieces that became part of the Indianapolis Sept. 11 memorial. Lee worked with Brown to secure the piece. “We wanted to bring a piece of that to Boone County for remembrance,” he said.
The beam was stored at LFD Station 11 and brought out for parades and anniversaries. It took Lebanon and the Lebanon Fire Department seven years to complete the display at LFD Station 11. They raised funds through donations and selling food at community festivals such as Back to the Fifties.
“It was a countywide effort to show them what we had and what we wanted to do with it,” he said. “We had donations from every jurisdiction in the county to help get something done.”
Finally, the memorial was funded and A&K Custom Monuments and John Lasley Outdoor Solutions each donated skilled labor to complete the project. The 9/11 Memorial sits in front of LFD Station 11 at 975 Lasley Drive, Lebanon. It has been accessible to the public since it was dedicated in May of 2018.
Lee, who has served as a firefighter with the Lebanon Fire Department for 23 years, said he was on shift that fateful day.
“It was probably the quietest shift of my career,” he said. “But we take the loss of any firefighter pretty hard.”
Brown said he still gets angry when he thinks about the attacks.
“It breaks my heart that people could do that kind of stuff,” he said.
It is unclear how many Hoosier communities have 9/11 memorials. The website www.911memorial.org only lists the Indianapolis memorial.