HOISINGTON — Made out of stainless steel and the I-beam from the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorials by B & B Metalarts were on display in Hoisington on Thursday.
"Kansas will be one of the few airports to have 9/11 Memorials," said Keith Osborn, federal security director of the Transportation Security Administration at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. "We are so excited that they have taken on this project. It was exactly what we were hoping for. We are delighted to be able to view them today.
"We have always had a ceremony to remember 9/11," said Osborn in Hoisington. He was pleased that this memorial will be completed for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
Weighing over 800 pounds, the larger piece is scheduled to be moved to Wichita for display beginning Sept. 7. The eagle will clutch the I-beam, the twin towers will be added and tints of brown, blue and red will be added.
Bruce and Brent Bitter have been working since July to complete the project. Brent said he thought he and Bruce had spent about 80 hours on the large pedestal alone. Bruce also fashioned the mounts.
A paper design of the pedestal was made first to make sure it would fit the requirements for the medallion.
Brent is a machinist, and Bruce does the artistic work. The two have been pulling a lot of early shifts due to the extreme heat since the shop doesn’t have much air conditioning. And, Brent has a full-time job as well.
Both of the Bitter’s are glad they were chosen for the work. "I’m honored to participate in this project to commemorate 9/11 with the TSA," said Bruce. "I haven’t forgotten, and I know the country hasn’t forgotten." The Bitter’s are donating their time and materials to the project.
Each one of the airports scheduled to receive a memorial will have a unique eagle. No two pieces of the I-beam are the same as they were fractured and twisted during the devastation.
Osborn was also pleased with how fast the project has been moving. Wichita received the I-beam in 2009, and Osborn and his team began searching for an artist who could do justice to the beam. They spent most of those two years searching until they found the Bitters this spring.
Within five days, the Bitters had a design."It was beyond our dreams," said Osborn.
The Great Bend memorial is scheduled to be unveiled Sept. 21.