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Great Bend Airport 9/11 Memorial revealed
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Bruce Bitter, left, and Brent Bitter of B&B Metal arts unveil the 9/11 Memorial for the Great Bend Airport on Wednesday morning. The art designated for Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita has been installed. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

In a solemn ceremony remembering those lives taken and those lives given, the 9/11 Memorial for the Great Bend Airport was revealed Wednesday morning in Great Bend. It will be on permanent display in the airport.

Keith Osborn, federal security director with the Transportation Security administration at Mid-Continent Airport, opened the celebration with a video of the event that defined a generation and changed the way Americans think of terrorism.

Americans living on that day can vividly remember where they were when they heard of the attacks, the anxiety and the fear of the uncertain, and of former President Bush’s announcement of the terrorism.

And so, the memorials created by the Bitters encompasses the symbols that demarcate our country after that time The twisted steel I-beam is the foundation, and the flying symbol of our national bird soaring shows overcoming this trial. The words, "We will never forget," are a reminder of what we all know.

The buildings with the American flag demonstrates the fundamental patriotism that arose after the attacks, and diverse Americans from a huge array of cultures stood as one.

The original idea to obtain an artifact came from Phil Garcia, TSA in Wichita. He had traveled to Washington and viewed the artifacts in possession of the Port Authority. He knew he wanted to obtain the I-beam for Kansas. The I-beam gripped by the eagle was in fact marked as evidence in the court, and is still in its natural state.

After receiving the I-beam the TSA in Wichita searched for nearly two years before finding B&B Metalarts on the internet.

The fit was nearly instantaneous. The TSA was impressed with the conception that Bruce drew, and the Bitters knew they wanted to do the artwork. "We’re honored by doing this project," said Bruce. B&B has five more memorials to build for other state airports.