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Posted on Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 10:01 a.m.

EMU planning 9/11 memorial after receiving steel column from World Trade Center

By Nathan Bomey

Eastern Michigan University is planning to establish a 9/11 memorial after receiving a 14-foot, 6,800-pound steel column that was part of the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks.

EMU President Susan Martin requested an artifact from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey at some point several months ago and recently found out that the request was granted.

EMU's acquisition of the artifact — first reported Friday by the Eastern Echo, EMU's student newspaper — comes about five weeks before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

EMU Physical Plant Chief of Operations John Donegan told today that the artifact, an H-column steel beam, is believed to have come from the 74th floor of the World Trade Center's south tower.

"It's a huge column," Donegan said. "The one end of it has been completely ripped apart, and the other end of it was cut with a torch when they were cleaning things up over there."

The remnants of 9/11 are still visible on the column, he said.

"You can see where the metal was so hot that it started to melt parts of the beam," he said.

EMU retrieved the beam earlier this week from a hangar at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, where it was being housed with other remnants of the World Trade Center. Donegan said the beam was transported on a truck to Michigan.

The beam was immediately loaned to a group that's showing it to firefighters in Lansing today, but it's expected to be returned to Ypsilanti on Monday.

Donegan said the process of acquiring the column has been underway for months. He said the university plans to install the column as part of a 9/11 memorial that is already 85 percent planned. He wants the memorial to be built outside the northeast corner of EMU's Halle Library.

University officials said that plan is not official, but Donegan said he wants to move quickly to get the column erected by Sept. 11.

"It will be very visible and we're going to do it very tastefully," he said. "We're still in the design phase, but our initial concept right now that everybody seemed to like is sitting it on two concrete columns to emulate the two towers."

Early visitors to the steel column, which was temporarily sitting outside EMU's Physical Plant when it arrived on campus, have had varying reactions to seeing the artifact.

"Everybody's very emotional when they see it," Donegan said. "We've have people cry over it, we've had people pray over it, we've had people get mad when they see it."

One man who saw the column was working in the World Trade Center's south tower on the day it collapsed.

"He got very, very emotional," Donegan said. "He told us he went to 48 funerals in 30 days."

Donegan said the column was a "wonderful gift to the university" and that donors are already expressing interest in contributing to the creation of the permanent memorial.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.


Geoff Larcom

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

EMU President Sue Martin actually made the request to the Port Authority more than a year ago. We got word this spring that we would get something, but did not imagine it would be this large or significant.

Nina Brennan

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

@mr_annarbor: Right, so then you can throw a fit about how his personal analysis doesn't belong in this article? I get so depressed reading these dumb anonymous jabs. Get a backbone.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

OK, but you still haven't answered WHY this is an appropriate thing for EMU to do.


Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

I'm with Laurel and Dante on this one. This really makes no sense to me. And, of course, the article makes no mention of WHY EMU entered the lottery to begin with. Maybe Mr. Larcom can enlighten us on that point. He, after all, used to be a "real" reporter.

Geoff Larcom

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

FYI, EMU has led the state of Michigan in tuition restraint the past three years. Its percentage increase this year was the second lowest in the state, behind only CMU's, but the overall dollar increase (about $300 for a student taking 30 credits a year) at EMU was far lower than CMU's. This after being one of only several schools in the country to not raise tuition at all in 2010-11.

Ethyl Ambrose

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

FYI, EMU has led the state in laying off employees (34 in June).


Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

I was under the impression this sites moderators had done due diligence and were more closely scrutinizing the off the wall conspiracy theorist poster whose screenname is an ad for an blatant hate-speech film.

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

The conspiracy theorists' one valid point is that militant Islam is in part a response to militant Zionism. Our financial and military support of the Israeli government made our civilians in New York and Washington targets, and for those innocent people we grieve, not for the governments who chose sides in the conflict.

Dante Marcos

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

With all due respect, this idea is nonsensical. What about a memorial to African American Michigan veterans? Or a memorial to the Kickapoo, whose land EMU was before it was EMU? Or perhaps a memorial to fallen fellow Kent St. students? Students want public art on their campuses. They want access to fresh, well-made food. They don't want a remnant of catastrophe, especially when that catastrophe owed much to the harrowing behavior of a father from Texas and his son. If Susan Martin wants some genuinely novel ideas, she could easily contact someone in EMU's art department.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Wow! "Students want public art on their campuses. They want access to fresh, well-made food." I would like to see that survey! I lieu of that, I think I will write off the rest of the comment as well.


Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

Your willingness to hyper parse and condemn all evil in the history of the world, except one of the most prominent of out times ( i.e islamic jihadism) is not just breathtyakingly's actually demeaning to Muslims ,who you treat as if they were accountability -free dim witted children.

Silly Sally

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Don't forget the Puerto Ricans in the 1950s who shot up Congress. What should that be called other than an act of terror?

Basic Bob

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

Kent State already has a May 4th memorial. It opened on the 20th anniversary of the shootings. Blame whoever you want for the killings (Gov. James A. Rhodes gets my vote), but the students were killed by fellow Americans, not foreigners. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

EMU does have memorial to MLK and the county is littered with names of the tribe that was here before EMU. EMU in fact, did honor that tribe, but was forced to rename its athletic teams because some thought it disrespectful. It was a catastrophe the finds its origins not in just in our foreign policy, but in the violent extremism of Islamic Fundamentalism. If it were our foreign policy then why do we not see Hispanics blowing themselves up? As I am confident that you are well aware of, South Americans have far more cause to attack us then Arabs do, but I have never seen any person with a Spanish surname engage in terrorism on a mass scale in the US. The cause of the events of that date are far more complex then the RIght or Left will ever admit to. How do you know what students want? You are being awfully presumptuous in assuming to know what they want.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

fortunately, Susan Martin doesn't bow to the gods of political correctness, so she's willing to have a monument that ALL Americans can connect with. thanks for further segmenting us into grievance groups, tho...

Dexter Bear

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

Sure hope they cleaned off any remnants of asbestos-containing fireproofing that was sprayed on these steel beams during WTC construction.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

One correction - EMU was &quot;selected&quot; for the artifact. There were a certain number of artifacts made available, and EMU entered into a lottery to receive one. There was more chance than merit in the award.

joe golder

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

I hope they find a place on campus where more people from the community can view this monument. Maybe near the water tower. It can help remind people of the hearts that stopped beating that day and the hearts that were broken. Where most tragedies are an act of god, this was an act of stupidity!!


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Go EMU ! Here is a documentary featuring actual 9/11 victim families and NYFD members. Just this week a rescue worker received a compensation check with an actual amount of $0.00 on it. Never Forget! Truth Rising (1:55) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

Oh, so Saudi Arabia is finally paying what it thinks it owes the victims of this attack?

Kai Petainen

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

how about putting it towards a memorial to all of those who were lost.. but for those that were an alum of any college or university in michigan?


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

Bobby, Bobby At the very least, Cheney [while The Minion was peering with Florida kindergartens] was grotesquely negligible and in '98 the former did actually call for a &quot;new Pearl Harbor&quot; to revamp US defense capabilities.

Silly Sally

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Hmm. I went here, and this campus was not exactly supportive of our efforts to &quot;get&quot; those responsible for this act of terror. I'll bet that that this pc campus will have a plaque stating that Muslims didn't do this terrorist act, and a second memorial to dead Afghan civilians who were used as shields by the Taliban.

Silly Sally

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

&quot;Mariella&quot; &quot;And your critique of a memorial to dead Afghan civilians is just straight-up racist.&quot; Not at all. All I said is that this campus MIGHT have &quot;a second memorial to dead Afghan civilians who were used as shields by the Taliban&quot; It pointed out how ruthless and cowardly the Taliban are, and voiced that I felt that it is inappropiate to have such a memorial, and nowhere is there any mention of a memorial to dead American soldiers. EMU was not and is not supportive towards the war or the American soldiers who are risking their lives over there. I was mocking this administration by stating that them MIGHT have a memorial for dead Afghan and by extension, non is planned for our soldiers. &quot;Mariella can't see past race, even when it was not the point of the comment.


Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

&quot;If there is any bias it is towards a religion, not a race. Thus, it cannot be racism.&quot; Hmmm, nope. I said the poster's critique of Afghan civilians was racist. &quot;Afghan&quot; isn't a religion. The poster targeted them because of race.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

I'm curious what you mean by saying EMU wasn't supportive. Could you elaborate?


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Yes, Mariella. Straight up racist.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

You do realize that Muslims working in the Twin Towers were killed in the attacks, right? And your critique of a memorial to dead Afghan civilians is just straight-up racist.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Hmm.....Comments to follow could be interesting

Basic Bob

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

Ann Arbor didn't ask for one. Many people here believe Dick Cheney and Karl Rove did it.


Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

yeah yeah yeah...and the world is flat, there's a tooth fairy and &quot;invisible empire&quot; isnt a racist wacky conspiracy theory film. &quot;bob&quot; and &quot; freedom&quot; deserve each other.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

Actually, it was SOME intel that believed he was dead. Other intel had him in Tora Bora, Pakistan, Iran, etc. The Pakistanis knew actually where he was at. They probably always did.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

Top intel had bin Laden dead for 10 years and on ice but I suppose you believe they really just killed him and to spare us all our lil feelers they had to burie him at sea? Watch &quot;Fabled Enemies&quot; Basic. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>