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To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, local Life Scout Alexander Aprea will erect a sculpture memorial representing one one-hundredth the size of the Twin Towers including a steel piece from the wreckage.
Alexander Aprea, 14, is a life scout from Boy Scout Troop 802 who is working toward achieving the Eagle Scout rank by organizing and building a sculpture representing the Twin Towers as a way to honor the victims and survivors of 9/11.
“Eagle Scout is something that I have always wanted to obtain since I joined scouting, and this is kind of a way for me to really feel like the project that I am doing to earn my eagle scout is a worthy project,” Alexander said.
Alexander explained that in order to achieve the Eagle Scout rank, one needs to obtain merit badges, perform community service, service to his troop and create an Eagle Scout project that benefits the community.
A dedication ceremony is planned for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at Cesar Chavez Plaza. The sculpture will exhibit two 13-foot-tall industrial steel I-beams representing the Twin Towers and an actual 1-foot-by-3-foot piece of steel from the wreckage in between the two taller I-beams.
“I had the honor of capturing some steel while I was working at the site,” said Lee Ielpi, president of September 11th Families’ Association in New York City. “It was just a special type of event that I was able to give a small piece away, and this was special.”
Alexander’s inspiration came from a December 2009 family trip to New York City. Among the tourist attractions he and his family visited was the Tribute World Trade Center.
A tour led by former New York City firefighter Ielpi, became Alexander’s inspiration to create a 9/11 memorial in Sacramento.
Alexander said he recalls Ielpi giving the tour and stopping at a glass display case featuring a fallen firefighter’s jacket ripped down the back. It was then that Ielpi shared his personal experience with the tour.
Ielpi lost his son, Jonathan, also a New York City firefighter, on 9/11. Three months later, Ielpi retrieved his son’s body from the wreckage. The jacket in the display case is the same one ripped off his son’s back.
Recovering his son from the wreckage led him and a handful of people to build September 11th Families' Association, which provides counseling and support to those affected by the Twin Towers collapse.
“You know, when the towers came down, there wasn’t much left of anything, including the people,” Ielpi said. “Steel withstood. You can bend it; you can twist it, but making it disappear is very difficult, so it has become that iconic symbol of remembrance.”
The steel wreckage from the Twin Towers has become a symbol of endurance, Ielpi said, and it is now distributed worldwide for memorials and places of remembrance.
Alexander is currently organizing the project, seeking sponsors and donations. He is working on getting approval from the city, from the mayor’s office and the department of parks and recreation.
The initial idea for the sculpture involved installing a permanent memorial at Cesar Chavez Plaza.
Jim Combs, director of Parks and Recreation, said that it would not be possible to permanently install the memorial, because it requires a longer process and it would not be ready in time to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“What we discussed, and what I offered, is to turn this into a temporary project, and so instead of a permanent mounting at Chavez Park, he would do a temporary installation under my special event program,” Combs said.
Alexander said he plans to work with Combs and the city through the lengthy process of finding a home for the memorial sculpture after the dedication ceremony. Once a permanent home is found for the memorial, Alexander said he would donate the sculpture to the city of Sacramento.
“I think it is really terrific that a young man has this kind of inspiration, and I think this has the potential of being a very moving tribute, if it’s done the right way,” Combs said.
The memorial will be installed with the help of his Boy Scout troop, Alexander said.
Andy Peszynski, who owns Davison Iron Works, donated the two steel I-beams and promised to deliver them when the site was ready.
Dave Bearden at Teichert Construction will talk to Alexander about donating the concrete for the memorial’s foundation if approval is granted.
“Because this is the 10th anniversary, I want people to remember the day, remember what caused this, so it doesn’t happen again,” Alexander said.
Alexander said he plans to have an interfaith service to promote religious tolerance featuring religious leaders from Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Protestantism.
He said he thinks it is important to have representatives from different congregations “to show that this memorial is not just coming from one side or one group, but that it is everyone together remembering that day.”
He said he hopes to have as many people as possible see the sculpture.
“I want people to see and touch the steel,” so that they can connect with the history, Alexander said.
“Not everyone in California or in Sacramento is able to travel to New York and see the Tribute Center, and see the artifacts and what happened that day,” Alexander said. “So I feel that it is important for people who don’t have that opportunity, to have that opportunity in a different way here in Sacramento.”
The shipping cost for the piece of steel from the wreckage is approximately $400, Alexander said. He is raising the money for the shipping costs and materials for the sculpture’s construction.
The interfaith temporary memorial and dedication service will be held Sept. 11 at Cesar Chavez Plaza, 910 I St.
To learn more about Alexander and his efforts to create a 9/11 memorial sculpture click here.