'Rio Vista Fire Chief Hartford speaks to the crowd at the The 9-11 Memorial Dedication Ceremony at the Rio Vista Fire Departmentabout the rigors of being a firefighter, and He spoke about the physically daunting task of climbing the staircases of the world trade center to have the fire crews battle fires. Sunday. (Josh Redsun/ Daily republic Photo)
Rio Vista dedicates 9/11 memorial
by Susan Hiland
RIO VISTA — Hundreds came out Sunday to dedicate a memorial to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the city’s downtown – a memorial that was years in the making.
A mural of three firefighters hoisting a flag in the ruins of the two World Trade Center towers was painted on the wall of the fire station, beside the front door.
It took Richard Laswell, Amy Schmidt, Gary Mitchell and Linda Heune-Solomon about two weeks to complete. It took the help of many people from the community to pull everything together for Sunday’s ceremony.
“That was really special,” said Heune-Solomon.
But the big draw was a piece of red, rusty steel I-beam – 4 feet long, 16 inches wide and weighing 780 pounds – that is attached to a large metal post in front of the mural. It’s one of about 250 pieces of the World Trade Center towers kept just for the purpose of memorializing that fateful day in September 2001.
Former Rio Vista Fire Chief Tom Myers remembers the application process. It wasn’t difficult but there were a few rules.
“The piece had to be open for public view,” he told the crowd. “It couldn’t be used for a fundraiser and couldn’t be put in a private collection.”
The city of Rio Vista wasn’t charged for the piece but it had to pay for the shipping from New York to California. After bouncing around various ideas, they came upon the solution with the assistance of a major retailer.
“A relative worked at Walmart, but they don’t haul across country, so they connected with a local shipping company that would do it,” he said.
Once the company heard what they were hauling, they didn’t charge the city a dime. The shipment came to Suisun City and a convoy of vehicles arrived to see the piece of history. They brought the beam back to town with sirens blaring.
“We wanted everyone to know we were transporting something significant to share,” Myers said.
The size was a little different from what they expected. So then the question arose: What would they do with this I-beam to display it in the best way possible?
They placed it on a truck and took it to various events for three years, but that was temporary. Paul Graham Drilling was asked to take a look at it. After much discussion, it was decided to place it in front of the fire station with a large post attached to the back of the beam.
“While they worked on it, they said they could feel a reverence coming off the steel,” Myers said.
A plaque commemorates the day of dedication at the fire station and places a piece of history in the community of Rio Vista that touched everyone in America.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.