BELLEVILLE, ILL. - Sunday marks 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, and Belleville firefighters are busy preparing what will be one of the country's largest memorials to the people who died that day.
On Thursday, crews hung a steel beam, recovered from the site where the twin towers fell, in between two concrete towers. The beam is angled in the direction of New York.
"We were able to get this artifact from one of the towers," Belleville fire chief Tom Pour said.
The display stands on a pentagon-shaped plaza. There's also a path leading up to the site stretching 343 feet long.
"The walkway is there to honor the 343 firefighters that perished that day," Pour said.
It's all part of a memorial project around six years in the making.
"It has been a long haul," said Scott Lanxon, a member of the 9/11 Memorial Walkway Committee.
Some people stayed for hours, watching crews finish hanging the beam. Jon Brough Sr., a local first responder critically hurt and blinded in the line of duty, also made sure to be there.
"I was injured five years after the 9/11 the disaster, after what happened at the World Trade Center, and knowing that we lost so many first responders on that day, fire fighters, and police officers, and EMS... it's just so important that we do not let people forget about this," he said.
"What it's really about is passing this on to the next generations who don't know about 9/11," Lanxon said.
"There is a whole generations of children now that are reading about this in books, just like we read about Pearl Harbor," Pour said. "So for us, this is a very key intersection with route 15 and 159, a lot of cars travel by here every day and there may be a lot of people driving by just curious about what it is, and pull in to see."
On Sunday, September 11 at 2 p.m., there will be a dedication ceremony for the memorial at Belleville Fire House Number 4. It follows a 5K Run scheduled for 9:11 in the morning.