Why We Celebrate the Fourth of July

On the eve of the all-American Fourth of July weekend, a tractor-trailer parked itself on Monument Circle today with a patriotic jolt strapped to its flatbed. There, draped in an American Flag, were two support beams from the World Trade Center that will become the centerpiece for the Project 9/11 Indianapolis memorial. The permanent memorial will be built on West Ohio Street, overlooking the downtown canal and unveiled during the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

Two steel beams may not seem like they would amount to much, but once you see them, their power is obvious. Everyone walking around the Circle this morning paused for a moment of reflection; their faces telling what their hearts were feeling. Many snapped pictures on their phones while others conversed with complete strangers nearby. 

“I can’t tell you how many people walk up to them, touch them, and just bow their heads,” says Greg Hess, an Indianapolis firefighter who was part of Indiana Task Force 1—a FEMA search and rescue team that joined the recovery efforts 16 hours after the two towers came down in 2001. “You don’t really get it until you actually see them,”

Hess established Project 9/11 Indianapolis in January 2010, and has been working tirelessly ever since to bring these artifacts to our city. “We need to remember,” says Hess. “And what better way, what’s a more fitting way to pay tribute than establishing a memorial downtown here.”

Today’s public viewing of the WTC artifacts on the Circle served as a reminder: As we celebrate with friends and family this weekend, let’s remember to take stock of the freedoms we enjoy.  And most of all, let’s be proud to be Americans.