The city of Myrtle Beach will unveil the new location for its 9/11 memorial Saturday afternoon to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.
According to city Spokesman Mark Kruea, the city is moving the Unity Memorial’s granite plinth from 29th Ave. North to Warbird Park at a cost of $130,000. It will also remount the steel beam from the original, which was taken from one of the towers, and reinscribe the same text in the surrounding tiles.
“We had five different entities that were responsible for it, but no one was taking care of it as needed,” Kruea said. “It wasn’t being well-maintained. But by moving it, it will come under the city’s umbrella.”
The ceremony will include speeches from Mayor Brenda Bethune, CEO of Golf Tourism Solutions Bill Golden and former New York City firefighters Billy Owens and John Walters.
Golden had helped the Boy Scouts of America erect the memorial in its original location in the aftermath of the attacks, working with then-Mayor John Rhodes.
Around the same time, the Myrtle Beach community raised money for free vacations for New York firefighters and police officers.
“We held welcome events at the vacation center,” Kruea said. “It prompted a group of firefighters to start an annual golf outing here. A lot of the firefighters have relocated here upon retirement.”
On the tenth anniversary of the attacks, a group of retired firefighters donated the steel beam, which has been part of the memorial ever since.
At Saturday’s memorial, Paul Hickey, an army veteran and longtime friend of an FDNY chief during 9/11, will christen the new location with a poem.
“The whole thrust of the poem is that everything in life has a voice and a history,” Hickey explained. “So I am the voice of the steal beam and I tell the history of where it came from and where it is now.”
Hickey, who previously was involved with a memorial on Coney Island, said he sent his poem to Kruea after learning of the ceremony.
“When I was notified by some friends of the memorial at Myrtle Beach, I got in touch with Mark Kruea,” Hickey recalled. “They asked me to deliver it at the rededication.”
The poem depicts a triumph of the American spirit.
“Then I sat in a landfill, ‘Til I was rescued from the cold,” it reads in part. “And I rose from the ashes. Like the Phoenix of Old.”
It also reflects on the importance of remembering the devastation of that day, and of recognizing those who risked or sacrificed their lives to save others.
“Now I rest with my new neighbors, These Warbirds of old, That protected us from harm, Their stories have been told.”