FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Lt. John Cronin and Firefighter Joe Rainis will never forget what they experienced on Sept. 11, 2001. The two were among the dozens from the Fairfield Fire Department who went to New York City to help with the relief efforts.
“It’s something I’d never want to repeat, but it was unique,” Cronin said of his experience in the city on Sept. 11. “It’s almost indescribable.”
A decade later the pair helped make sure no one in Fairfield would ever forget that day. They worked to bring a piece of steel crossbeam recovered from the World Trade Center to serve as the centerpiece for Fairfield’s memorial.
The beam now sits on the front lawn of the Fairfield Fire Department Headquarters on Reef Road, along with a plaque dedicating the structure to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. Cronin and Rainis pulled back the curtain on the memorial Friday morning in front of a crowd of Fairfield firefighters, police officers, EMTs, political leaders and citizens.
Rainis says he does not like to talk about what he saw 10 years ago, simply calling it “devastating.” But he’s been working since to get some kind of memorial built at Firehouse No. 1.
“On 9/11, and after 9/11, this is where everybody came to muster and to go down to the city,” Rainis said of the Reef Road firehouse. “We figured it would be a nice tribute to those who did respond and volunteer down there, to help others to bring it home.”
When he saw a news report that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was donating parts of the Twin Towers in 2009, he and Cronin started the process to get Fairfield its lasting memory. The result is a 2-foot-by-4-foot, 600-pound piece of history.
“What better memorial to have in Fairfield than some steel that shared in that pain and shared in the disaster of that day,” said Police Chief Gary MacNamara. “What’s unique about steel is: whether it’s covered by snow, whether it’s wet, whether a hurricane passes through, that steel, that memorial to our own personal loss of that day, will always be here.”
How are you commemorating 9/11 this weekend? Share your thought and ideas in the comments below.