FREEPORT – Hundreds gathered Saturday to watch as two 10-foot steel beams rolled down Main Street on a military flatbed truck.

These weren’t just any beams, but part of the support structure for New York City’s World Trade Center, the twin towers that were destroyed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The journey the beams took from New York City to Maine is the culmination of a three-year effort by the Masons of Freeport. The plan is to use the steel as part of a permanent memorial at the corner of Main and West streets.

“I lost a lot of friends that day,” guest speaker Lt. Mickey Kross, a retired member of the New York Fire Department who was a first responder on Sept. 11, told the crowd that gathered in town.

“So the fact you’re doing this memorial, it’s very special to me,” he said.

Kross’ story as one of the survivors of the collapse of the North Tower is featured in a recent documentary, “9/11: The Miracle of Stairway B.”

John Skillin, a member of the Masons of Freeport, said he was excited to see the crowd Saturday. And while he’s energized by the arrival of the beams, he said there is much more work to be done.

The Masons still need to secure final approval from the town, which Skillin expects to happen in June. Then, the memorial itself needs to be fabricated.

The memorial will resemble the Twin Towers, similar to the mock design that already stands on the city-owned property near the police and fire station. Organizers expect it to be completed in time for a dedication ceremony Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Joyce Veilleux, a member of the Freeport 9/11 Committee, said the dedication ceremony will tie in with events planned to commemorate the anniversary. She said she thinks the memorial will become a destination.

“A lot of New Englanders can’t make it down to ground zero,” either for physical or emotional reasons, she said. Instead, “they’ll be able to come here and touch a piece of it.”

The steel beams made stops through southern Maine on their way to the midcoast. Draped in an American flag, they were escorted by state and local police, Maine’s Patriot Guard and more than 200 motorcyclists.

When the convoy rolled into Freeport, Kali and Sean Hagerty saluted.

Kali Hagerty, a former member of the Coast Guard and an officer with the Portland Police Department, and Sean Hagerty, an active member of the Coast Guard, said they came to Freeport because they thought it was a welcome home ceremony for a military unit. When they learned about the beams and the planned memorial, they stayed to support the effort. “I think it’s awesome,” Sean Hagerty said.

He said he has followed the efforts of the Freeport Flag Ladies in the news. The women who have appeared on Main Street every Tuesday since the terrorist attacks to wave the Stars and Stripes were recognized during Saturday’s ceremony for helping to bring the steel beams to Maine.

Among the guest speakers, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the “mammoth beam” holds so much meaning, and the fact that Freeport was selected to receive the steel, was “indescribable.”

“There are finite pieces of steel available,” she said, far fewer than can meet similar requests by municipalities.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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