Montana State University Billings
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Elizabeth Fullon
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9/11 Memorial
3803 Central Avenue
Billings, MT


The Story of the Memorial
   9/11 Memorial at MSU Billings College of Technology
    Dedication, September 11, 2011


If this 612-pound, twisted and burnt piece of steel could speak, imagine the stories it could tell!

The purpose of a memorial is to remember a story, to breathe new life into that story and make it part of our lives.

This memorial started with a teacher who—like many teachers—wanted to move her students from merely sitting in a classroom to thinking of themselves as part of the college—of a university, as active members of the community and as inspired citizens.

The answer to this challenge came when the New York-New Jersey Port Authority announced on September 11, 2009, that it was awarding pieces of steel recovered from Ground Zero to communities around the country.

A request was drafted; it was supported and endorsed by then College of Technology Dean John Cech and implemented by former Chancellor Ronald Sexton on January 4th, 2010. We got word a year later. On February 11 this year, Chancellor Rolf Groseth signed the transfer agreement with the New York - New Jersey Port Authority.

In May, Fire Science program director Gary Edwards with his wife, Vicky, drove over 4,000 miles to New York and back to bring this I-beam to Billings. They have more stories than the media could tell about their trek across the country, about citizens who stopped and paid respect, and how veterans and first responders escorted the piece solemnly through the city on its arrival.

We broke ground on July 15. Bill Gottwals of our National Advisory Board raised funds for the project with the MSUB Foundation and through community donations to make sure that NO tax dollars would be spent on this project.

Over the summer, Jason McGimpsey led his crew and many volunteers, like Quentin Eggart, who gave generously of their time and resources to complete the memorial. In fact we like to say that this memorial has fingerprints all over it because of the many, many hands involved in building it.

This is a place for telling stories—stories about the day itself (9/11), the courage of first responders, the fragility of human life; stories about the kindness of strangers, what it means to be an American, the work of volunteers, how these 16-foot steel towers were built.

In fact, the towers and the stand that cradles the I-beam were built right here by Bob Blackwell of our own welding program. Tim Urbaniak, from our drafting and design faculty, tells us that he designed the memorial so that any one, everyone (even children) can touch the I-beam. One has to feel its cracks, twists, dents and broken studs—and then, look up to those gleaming, glossy twin towers rising up against the blue sky.

Of course we have dedicated faculty (the ones who tend to work long hours) who claim that you have not seen the memorial in its full glory until you see it lit up at night with the moon rising behind it.

There is a story here for everyone.                                  

Veterans, who have returned to college—thanks to the post-9/11 GI Bill—will have stories about the coins that are imbedded in the plates on three sandstone pedestals that will encircle the memorial. Teachers at the nearby Career Center and our own faculty have already used the memorial as a springboard for discussions, for young artists to study perspective, and for creative and reflective writing classes; and of course, the 9/11 Oral History Project is underway.

So this is not where the story of this Memorial ends; this is where the story begins. We keep the story of 9/11 alive by making it part of our lives…

by commemorating those who were lost,

by knowing our history and the lessons learned,

by dedicating ourselves to the values of service, compassion, and civic engagement, and

by celebrating our freedoms—celebrating the opportunities we have to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

Today as we commemorate 9/11 here in Billings, Montana, our community has just grown a little larger because we join many others who have gathered around 9/11 memorials in New York; in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; in Washington D.C. and around the world.                         

Thank you, everyone, for coming today to dedicate YOUR 9/11 memorial.


9-11 I-Beam
arrow Letter of Request to the  NY-NJ Port Authority

arrow MSUB COT to build September 11 memorial
(Billings Gazette, April 18, 2011)

arrow World Trade Center memorial planned

speaker icon9/11 Memorial Dedication
(aired September 12, 2011 on Yellowstone Public Radio)
Hundreds came to MSU Billings' College of Technology yesterday afternoon for the dedication of a memorial that features a piece of an I-beam recovered from the destroyed World Trade Center. Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks that killed nearly three thousand people. Speakers at the event hope the memorial is not only a reminder of the event, but brings healing.--
Jackie Yamanaka reports

9-11 Memorial
  Montana State University Billings 2011