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Old Virginia Brick dedicates 9/11 flagpole memorial
SALEM, Va,. April 28, 2003 - Old Virginia Brick Co. tonight dedicated its 9/11 flagpole memorial in a solemn public ceremony in which a New York City firefighter shared his eyewitness account of the day and his miraculous story of survival. Also assisting with the dedication were local survivors and next-of-kin of those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as representatives of American Airlines and United Airlines.
"Because of our location, we thought it would be appropriate to construct a lasting memorial that would remind us of this tragedy, and to also remind us as citizens of this great country to remain vigilant and not fall into complacency because we do have enemies", said Fletcher Smoak, president and CEO of Old Virginia Brick, whose headquarters and Salem manufacturing plant is less than a mile off Interstate 81 on West Main Street, the city's main thoroughfare.
Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte echoed Smoak's remarks, reminding the crowd that the county is still at war and urged that we work together to fight terrorism in the world by supporting our troops and preserving the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
The mayors of both Roanoke and Salem, who had delayed their Monday night council meetings so they could participate, also delivered remarks to the crowd assembled at the newly completed 5--foot memorial plaza in front of Old Virginia Brick's Salem manufacturing plant.
Capt. Richard Rotanz of the New York City Fire Department, who was among the first responders to the World Trade Center, traveled to Salem from his home in Long Island, N.Y., to deliver an emotional speech about his experience on 9/11. Rotanz, a 32-year veteran of the NYFD, was in Tower One when Tower Two fell and survived multiple building collapses that day while many of his friends -- and hundreds of other firefighters, emergency medical services personnel and police officers -- perished.
Following Rotanz' remarks, Smoak, and Chris Moore, vice president of Old Virginia Brick, unveiled a plaque at the base of the 60-foot flagpole that incorporates two twisted steel girders recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. A second pole erected for the ceremony held a flag that previously had flown over the World Trade Center.
As Moore read the plaque's inscription, he was joined by Rotanz and seven local residents, public safety officials, and family members of the victims of 9/11. Each recited the locations and numbers of fatalaties that day with which they had a direct connection.
The Rev. Seth Polley of St. John's Episcopal Church concluded the dedication by reading Psalms 91.1 and a prayer, also inscribed on the plaque. "We shall all, by example of love and charity, be a light to the world," he read as dusk fell.
Polley then began a candle-lighting ceremony while the United States flag atop the memorial was slowly illuminated. After several minutes of silence, the Roanoke College Childrens' Choir performed a unique arrangement of the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the audience joined the Noel C. Taylor Community Choir singing "America".
Old Virginia Brick's 9/11 flagpole memorial honors the victims terrorist attacks and the heroic acts that day of firefighters, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers. It was constructed using two 36-foot steel girders from between the 33rd and 36th floors of Tower One of the World Trade Center. The flagpole is topped with a 24-carat gold-plated eagle. Both the flagpole's pedestal and the plaza were built using Old Virginia Brick.
Smoak obtained the steel girders through Old Virginia Brick's assistance from Cycle Systems in Roanoke. Lynchburg Crane Co. donated its services to lift the 14,000-pounds of steel into place.
Old Virginia Brick, founded in 1890, is nationally known for its high-quality colonial wood-molded face brick, special shapes and arches. The company employs approximately 170 and operates plants in Salem and Madison Heights, Va.
Old Virginia Brick products have been used in new construction and historical restoration projects at colleges and universities across the country, including Roanoke College, Hollins University, Radford University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, William & Mary, Yale, Princeton and Wake Forest. Other projects using Old Virginia Brick include Historic Bull Street, Savannah, GA; National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md; Disney World, Orlando, Fla; Paul Revere Museum, Boston; and rest stops throughout Virginia.
Sara Bemiller, 540/725-4328
Linda Staley, 540/725-4327
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