Wednesday, 17 July 2013 15:43

Heart of Steel readies for Saturday departure

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Coggins, Billy Allen, Pearson and Caylin Burrell surround the memorial. Coggins, Billy Allen, Pearson and Caylin Burrell surround the memorial.

The Heart of Steel September 11 memorial will leave Roanoke Rapids Saturday and local bikers are encouraged to make the run to its next destination — the Petersburg Fire Department.

For the public, there is still time to view the memorial made from salvaged steel of the World Trade Center. It is on display in the Roanoke Rapids Fire Station 1 lobby on Roanoke Avenue from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s a piece of history,” Roanoke Rapids Fire Chief Stacy Coggins said this morning. “This particular incident (9-11) everybody remembers what they were doing.”

(Bikers wanting to participate in the run to Petersburg should be at Veterans Park by 9 a.m. Saturday. The registration fee is $25)

Coggins happened to be at Station 1 taking a class when someone said he needed to see what was happening. He sat down just as the second plane struck.

The memorial reminds Coggins of just how easy it is to forget. “We don’t get into this for the recognition. We do it because we want to help. I’m sure that’s what was on the minds of all the rescuers that day.”

The Heart of Steel memorial arrived in Roanoke Rapids Saturday as part of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation Bikers for America’s Bravest’s run to bring the steel to New York on September 29, the day of the Tunnel to Towers New York City 5K Run and Walk.

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The Heart of Steel.

Thus far, a handful of people have come by the station to view the memorial, Coggins said.

On Saturday, registration will begin at Veterans Park between the fire station and post office for the departing ceremony. Registration is $25 and proceeds go to help build smart houses for wounded veterans. The local biker group Knights of the Inferno as well as the local Harley Owners Group are participating and are encouraging other bikers to do so.

Lieutenant Gordon Pearson is handling the outgoing ceremony. “I’m honored to have it here. I look at the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in 9-11.”

Pearson said he was impressed by the thickness of the memorial but more impressed by what it represents. “I thought about what happened and the lives lost and said a little prayer. I’m humbled to know where it came from. It’s an example of how good comes out of tragedy.”

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