By Celia Belmonte
The Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department will unveil its 9/11 tribute in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, May 28, Memorial Day, outside the Red Bank Borough Hall at 90 Monmouth St.
The monument includes a piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center Towers. “I applied for the piece in 2010,” Fire Chief Alan Soden Jr. said. “The application is the biggest thing. They want to know exactly where the steel will go and how it will be specifically used for a monument. We even had to send a picture of the monument two weeks ago.”
Soden’s father, Alan Soden Sr., who was fire chief in 1986, was also involved in obtaining the steel for the tribute. “It was a long process with a lot of paperwork and legal action,” the senior Soden said. “All the pieces were numbered because every piece was evidence.”
The fire department was not approved to pick up the steel until winter 2011 at a high security terminal at
the John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y.
Once the 450-pound piece was in Red Bank, Bobby Holiday, a volunteer fireman and former fire chief, created five wooden models of potential monument designs. After a vote, the fire department’s six companies finally decided on Holiday’s personal favorite, The Rising.
“In this design I tried to show that the steel is rising back to the top,” Holiday said. “It’s going back up.”
The design places the twisted piece of steel on two pegs of different sizes, slanting it upward toward a representation of twin towers behind it. Beginning from the base of the steel, the design forces the eye up along the metal piece to the top of the towers where the numbers “9” and “11” have been placed.
“Clark Craig made the towers for us for just the material cost,” Holiday said. “His friend donated the specially cut numbers for free. It is still unknown who it was.”
The fire department understands how important it is to have this 9/11 tribute in the community. “We want to remember the 343 firemen that died that day and all of the others who lost their lives,” Soden Sr. said.
The department also hopes to commemorate the life of their fallen brother, Mark F. Hemschoot, a member of the Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department who worked on one of the top floors of the World Trade Center.
Hemschoot’s name is part of a plaque listing the names of volunteer members who have died in the line of duty. The plaque, placed below the original bell from the early 20th century Liberty Fire House on White Street, is part of the fire department’s two-year-old memorial.
The 9/11 tribute is a much welcomed addition. “People love it and have said how nice it looks,” Soden Sr. said. “Everyone is pleased with it. It took some time but we got it where we wanted it.”