Remembering Those Who Gave Everything…


Excerpted and edited from an article by Terry Burd
The full article can be found at

The Beginning

Indianapolis Firefighter and Paramedic Greg Hess arrived home from a 24-hour shift just in time to see a second commercial airliner fly into New York City’s World Trade Center. Sixteen hours later, he and the rest of Indiana Task Force 1, a FEMA Search and Rescue Team, stood at Ground Zero, assisting in rescue and recovery efforts. ITF-1 labored in lower Manhattan alongside other rescue workers for eight days. For Greg Hess, the experience equaled the horror an earlier generation endured at Pearl Harbor.

The Idea

In January 2010, Greg learned that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was accepting petitions for Ground Zero artifacts from communities that wanted to establish permanent local memorials. He felt strongly that Indianapolis needed its own memorial to the events of September 11. To meet that need, Greg established Project 9/11 Indianapolis and began the process of petitioning for artifacts. With the support of Indianapolis civic leaders, Greg gained approval to receive two 22-foot steel beams from the World Trade Center to form the basis of the Project 9/11 Indianapolis Memorial.

The Project

Now that Greg had secured permission to acquire the two steel beams, we actually set up three different committees for this project: Fundraising, headed by Keith Norwalk (President of Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery); Design, headed by Bill Cotterman (Architect and Project Manager at Gibraltar Design); Construction and Installation, headed up by Terry Burd (Owner of Gibraltar Remembrance Services).

The Design

Bill Cotterman’s vision was to recreate both emotionally and symbolically the experience of being at the World Trade Center site. His purpose was to make the memorial real today and for future generations to always remember what happened on September 11, 2001.

The focus was to be the two steel beams from the fallen World Trade Center towers, where visitors could walk up and actually touch them. The columns would represent Tower One and Tower Two of the World Trade Center. A life-size custom bronze eagle with an open wingspan was to sit on top of one of the beams to represent the American spirit and resolve. The bronze eagle would face east towards the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon, and the crash site of Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A seven-foot tall polished granite wall on the west side of the plaza would serve as a backdrop to the memorial columns. The wall was to be separated by a gap to appear broken. This would symbolize what happened to the United States that tragic day. The memorial wall has inscriptions that speak to the mix of emotions and an expression of hope and unity.

The plaza also would have four permanent granite benches that are replicas of the original benches from the World Trade Center plaza. There would also be four separate monuments with the timelines of each plane crash.

April 9, 2011

Greg Hess returns from New York with two beams on a truck supplied by Sodrel Trucking. On the trip toward Indianapolis, the beams were escorted by the Murat Shriner Honor Guard, a National Guard Huey Helicopter, and 6,000 motorcycles. Every overpass between Richmond, Indiana, and Indianapolis had people cheering and waving flags as the beams passed. A crowd of several thousand people attended the welcoming ceremony (in Indianapolis) with cheers and awe.


On July 18, 2011, we began site work and digging the footers for the slab. On August 18, the granite was delivered from Cold Springs Granite. The granite walls were immediately installed. On September 7, it was time to set the two steel beams and install the bronze eagle. In the spirit of the 9/11 project, the Iron Works Union Local 22 installed and set the beams and welded the eagle perched on top of one of the beams. On September 9, four monuments were installed. Each monument represented the timeline of each plane crash.

September 11, 2011

Several thousand Hoosiers attended the unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial in Indianapolis on Sunday, September 11, 2011 (ten years to the day from that tragic day in New York City). There were cheers and tears as each part of the moment was unveiled. Project 9/11 Indianapolis was complete and will stand for all to see forever.

Thank you to everyone who helped with the creation of the Project 9/11 Indianapolis Memorial. Special thanks to Terry Burd for sharing his memories of the entire process. And our special appreciation to Greg Hess, whose vision and patriotism were the catalyst for this stunning tribute.