None - It sits there on a pedestal, close enough to touch. A piece of twisted metal covered with rust, and a story. That story is one for the ages, and one we won't ever forget. Washington Irving Park in Bixby, Oklahoma is the final resting place for a part of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. How the steel I-beam got here is a fascinating story.
It all starts with a man named Bill Pittman. Bill is well known in Bixby as a man who cares about his city and one who can get things done. He came up with the idea to ask for a piece of the wreckage and the Friends of Irving Foundation agreed. I met Walter Gund at the site of the memorial to get the scoop. Walter is the vice president of the foundation, and he was more than happy to help out.
Walter told me that Bill Pittman got the ball rolling by calling the office of Kathy Keating, the wife of then Governor Frank Keating. "They made arrangements and we were told where to call, and this went on for six, seven, eight months" Walter told me. When the group finally heard back from New York, the message was a little shocking. "They said, we have your I-beam, but you have to pick it up this Friday."
The foundation already had a trucking company set to go to get the piece but they couldn't make it happen on such short notice. Thankfully, Walker and Bill weren't out of ideas. "We got a hold of the president of Melton trucking, he said he had a truck deadheading back to Tulsa and he would be happy to pick it up." It turns out the folks at Melton did more than that. "They picked it up and delivered it right here to the park for us and didn't charge us a penny" Walter beamed.
Hear the entire interview with Walter by clicking here or on the link at the bottom of the story.
Melton wasn't the only folks who gave time and money. "We collected over $10,000 for this project" Walter said. But they needed almost none of it "it cost over $15,000 but the cash put in was just over $2,000 so there was a lot of donations, in kind labor and all."
Because of the vision of Bill Pittman and the follow through by a group who loves their city, the entire Tulsa area can do more than watch history on TV. They can make a short drive down south Memorial and touch a piece of America's heart. Check the links below for directions, links, and audio related to this story.