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World Trade Center Beam Comes To Cresskill Wrapped In Glory

The beam makes a stop at its eventual destination -- a 9/11 memorial scheduled for completion in September 2016. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Cresskill firefighters and DPW workers retrieved the beam from JFK Airport. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule

CRESSKILL, N.J. -- Swathed in the Stars and Stripes, a 7,400-pound steel beam that was once a part of the World Trade Center was delivered to Cresskill Thursday morning to join a proposed monument honoring the victims of 9/11 -- including two police officers from town.

"Artifact #K-0008" will be a showpiece of the stone-and-steel monument in Cook Park across from the Cresskill Fire Department on Madison Avenue, borough officials said.

It is one of the last remaining pieces of WTC steel to be released by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and transferred to an organization with a memorial.

The beam -- which will help honor the late John Coughlin and John Cortazzo -- came from the B2 area of the parking complex under the Twin Towers, which was also the location of a Feb. 26, 1993 car bombing.

It features the orange and blue paint that specified designated parking areas within the WTC parking complex.

As a former mayor and lifelong resident of Cresskill, Bergen County Surrogate Michael R. Dressler worked hand-in-hand with Mayor Benedict Romeo on the acquisition process beginning in March 2014.

Thursday morning, members of Cresskill’s Department of Public Works and Fire Department retrieved the artifact from a storage facility at JFK International Airport in Queens. A motorcade of police, firefighters and ambulance workers accompanied the flatbed DPW truck from the town line to Veterans Square for a brief ceremony.

Then it was headed to storage.

The American Legion, the borough and local school students have all been involved in designing and planning the monument, with a September 2016 target completion date.

“We’ve always hoped we would get a piece," Romeo said. "We knew it would be a long wait, and now we’ve finally gotten it and we are very pleased.”

Coughlin, an NYPD sergeant, was 43 when he was killed trying to help others in the terror attacks. He is survived by a wife and three children.

Port Authority Police Officer John Cortazzo, who was 48, died of an illness sustained during rescue and recovery efforts. He is survived by a wife and two children.

“I knew both of these men since they were kids, I have known their families my whole life,” Dressler said. “In doing this, we set out to build a monument in honor of all the victims of 9-11, but in particular in memory of our two native sons.”

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