Riverfront Park will be the final resting place for the World Trade Center i-beam that was gifted to the City of Springfield by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This morning the groundbreaking ceremony was held at Riverfront Park. With shovels in hand, Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Springfield Fire Commissioner Bernard J. Calvi, and Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri was joined by Patrick Sullivan, Executive Director of the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt, and many of the generous donors. Speaking on behalf of the donors and his family was Steve Roberts.
The World Trade Center artifact, given to the Spirit of Springfield by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is one of the largest steel remnants of the devastating terrorist attack. It is significant in size and meaning and its use in this memorial will be unique among the nations 9/11 tributes. The monument was designed by Modvic and is being fabricated by Salmon Studios. The 9.5-foot tall I-beam will stand vertically in front of a bronze wall which will have the names of 498 first responder heroes engraved on it. At night, the artifact will cast the shadow of the Twin Towers on the wall and names.
Donors to Springfield’s September 11th Monument have come in various sizes with the largest coming from MassMutual and the Roberts’ Family. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts gave the initial donation for the design and an additional $5,000. AECOM Tishman and Springfield Thunderbirds each gave $10,000 towards the $300,000 goal. The City of Springfield contributed approximately $50,000 for the base.
Mayor Sarno serves as the Honorary Chair of Springfield’s September 11th Monument Committee. It is co-chaired by Barbieri and Calvi. Members of Springfield’s September 11th Monument Fundraising Committee are Colaccino, Matthew Bannister, First Vice President of Marketing and Innovation, PeoplesBank, Anthony Cignoli, A. L. Cignoli Company, Charlie Arment, Charlie Arment Trucking, Sheila Doiron, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Dennis Duquette, MassMutual Foundation, Kyle Houser, Val-Pak Western Massachusetts, Paul Phaneuf, St. Pierre-Phaneuf Funeral Chapels, Jason Rucker, MGM Springfield, Chris Russell, Springfield Business Improvement District, and CMSgt Maryanne Walts, 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base.
The Roberts Family, Steve, Georgianne, and their daughter, Rachel Roberts Combe, and son-in-law, Rolland Combe, have a special connection to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Rachel was introduced to Rolland by New York City Firefighter Brian Edward Sweeney. Brian and Rolland were best friends. In August 2001, Brian was assigned to Rescue Company 1 in West Midtown Manhattan. On September 11, 2001 when the planes struck the World Trade Center, Brian was working overtime at his former firehouse in Maspeth, Queens. He was 29 years old.
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s web site describes Brian through the words of Mary Ann Sweeney, his mother:
Brian is remembered as a hardworking‚ enthusiastic firefighter who wanted to be the very best he could be. He entered the New York City Fire Department on July 9‚ 1995.
His first assignment after ‘probie’ school was Engine 263 in Queens‚ the first in a three-year‚ three-house rotation‚ followed by Ladder 8 Manhattan‚ and Engine 214 in Brooklyn. He was then chosen to work in newly formed Squad 288 by then Lt.‚ now Captain Vinny Ungaro‚ who had recognized Brian’s skills and enthusiasm from previous assignments.
During Brian’s three years with the Squad‚ he continued to improve his firefighting techniques and enhance his rescue training skills. He took extra training classes on his own personal time and was able to teach training courses in several firefighting disciplines. In addition to all of this‚ Brian found the time to prepare intensely for the upcoming lieutenant’s exam scheduled for October 2001. Brian’s main goal as a firefighter was realized in late July 2001‚ when he was assigned to the elite Rescue One in Manhattan. It was another dream come true for Brian.
Brian loved outdoor activities. Snowboarding was probably his favorite. Skiing‚ mountain biking‚ climbing‚ scuba diving and rafting were also interests he shared with his many friends. Traveling to new places always excited him. Just mention a trip and he’d be packing his bag.
His parents Ed‚ retired Captain‚ FDNY‚ and Mary Ann‚ his sister Lynn and brother Matt‚ and the special person in his life‚ his girlfriend Melissa‚ were all important to him. Brian liked to have a good time and enjoyed being around people‚ especially family and friends.
He looked forward to‚ and helped organize‚ firehouse dinner dances and picnics. He was always enthusiastic about neighborhood block parties and backyard barbeques. His big blue eyes and crooked smile will always be remembered to those who knew and loved him.
Donations for the monument can be made by sending a check to Spirit of Springfield/September 11th Monument, 1350 Main Street, Suite 1004, Springfield, MA 01103 or by going online to https://www.gofundme.com/springfieldseptember11thmonument. All donations are tax exempt to the fullest of the law.
Springfield’s September 11th Monument is being administered by the Spirit of Springfield and the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management.