MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Federal safety officials were in Manhattan Thursday for the unveiling of a new memorial marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The Manhattan Regional Airport is one of seven airports in Kansas to receive a section of an I-beam from the Word Trade Center, a project that has been in the making for several years.
The beam was acquired by the Transportation Safety Administration at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT). The TSA received the 7 foot long, 800 lb. beam in 2009 and it was broken down into several pieces The sculpture installed in Manhattan is similar to one unveiled at Wichita on September 7, 2011 and several other airports in cities like Dodge City, Liberal and Garden City- all facilities where TSA screens passengers for flights.
Bruce Bitter, an artist with B&B Metal Arts in Hoisington, Kansas, designed a stainless steel plate around each piece of the beam with the metal shaped into artwork. The statue in Manhattan contains replicas of the Twin Towers, a background of a flag with nine stars and eleven stripes and an eagle above the piece of the beam.
Bitter designed the eagle's talons to be grasping the mangled section of the beam and he explained the symbolism: "It’s carrying the burden with it as it is flying forward into the future to symbolize that we’re going on with our lives."
"We made this as a gift to TSA which shows what TSA is doing to protect the security of our nation- it's a reminder of that. This was just quite an honor to do this project overall. We really enjoyed doing it. I hope everyone enjoys it and comes and stops at the airport to see the memorial," Bitter added.
"We need to remember what happened that day. We need to resolve that it cannot happen again and I feel that this memorial inspires folks to make sure that it does not happen again," said Keith Osborn who is the Federal Security Director for the state of Kansas.
"This represents that horrible day but at the same time it also represents the resilience of the American spirit. Bruce’s design with the eagle grasping the I-beam as if carrying it to us signifies the resiliency of the spirit and how we have come a long way since that day in 2001," he added.
Osborn says the seven Kansas airports that received memorials are the only facilities in the country to have such unique artwork paired with genuine artifacts. He tells WIBW that there are no other artifacts available to be given to communities.
The memorial is now on display in Manhattan Regional Airport's passenger terminal.