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DeWitt: Calling all 'green thumbs' for 9-11 memorial

Wanted: Some tender loving care for a DeWitt memorial to 9-11 victims.

"No mowing," promised Eugene Conway, police chief in DeWitt and chair of the committee overseeing the memorial. "But weeding, trimming and an overall sprucing up," said Conway, would be the work of the volunteers.

The memorial outside the DeWitt Town Hall is a twisted steel column from the World Trade Center, destroyed in the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. The column weighs six tons and is 21 feet high. It stands tall on town property, but the municipality does not own it -- its upkeep is in the hands of those willing to help, and help it requires.

The memorial is in desperate need of volunteers willing to provide assistance in maintaining the grounds surrounding the steel support, Conway said. The not-for-profit committee has some money for preservation; it will provide the materials, such as mulch and plants. But, Conway said, having someone help who knows gardening would be extremely valuable.

"Sadly, my method of trimming is that if it doesn't have a flower then I mow it," he said.

The monument grew from the determination of some DeWitt residents to cherish the memories of those who died in the terrorist attack. In November 2001, the residents asked former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for a piece of remains. In turn, he referred their request to his emergency management staff. Staff members indicated it would not be a problem to obtain a piece of debris, but it would take some time for the ruins to be removed from the site. In the meantime, however, changes in the administration caused the group's request to get lost in the shuffle. At that point, Assemblywoman Joan Christensen (D-119th District) followed up on the matter and the steel was brought to DeWitt shortly thereafter.

The monument's official dedication took place in 2002, and each year since, the memorial committee organizes a ceremony to take place on the anniversary of the attack.

While care and attention is sought mainly during the growing season, Conway said it is especially important to find people eager to nurture the spot for the annual observance.

For more information, please contact Chief Conway at 449-3640 or email econway@townofdewitt.com.

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