The idea for the memorial came to DeKalb County firefighter Doug Harms as he swept the firehouse floor in late September 2010. He wanted a way for the community to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.
Less than a year later a 2,200-square-foot monument was completed and dedicated Sept. 11, 2011 in front of the headquarters building. Garrett Smith, deputy for DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, said the sod had just been laid as the memorial was unveiled.
“Ultimately this memorial is for us never to forget how the world changed that morning,” Harms said. “The America I grew up in, especially with travel, changed that day and we need to never forget the sacrifices people made.”
The memorial is designed around a 180 pound I-beam from the World Trade Center. Harms traveled to New York with three other firefighters to pick up the beam. Harms said he was hesitant to do any type of sculpture around the beam because he did not want to take away from its significance.
After contacting the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, Harms worked with a local sculptor and former Marine Curtis Miller. The sculpture is a 10-foot tall phoenix rising from behind the beam. There are four different flight markers with detailed descriptions of each flight and gives a timeline of the flight from that morning.
“This turned into an educational memorial,” Harms said. “There is a lot of information for younger people, who might not remember or may not have been born, to know exactly what happened that morning.”
The memorial was built by local firefighters and funded by the community. The firefighters dedicated the memorial with the help of former New York firefighter Mike Korsch. Korsch helped Harms in acquiring the beam.
Harms said members from the community are encouraged to visit the memorial not only on 9/11 but any time throughout the year. The memorial is at 1950 W. Exchange Place.