Citadel to receive fragment of 9/11 Attacks inspired cadets to serve

The Citadel has received this piece of steel floor beam that will be placed in Capers Hall at the college.

Many Citadel cadets say the 9/11 terror attacks motivated them to enroll in a military college, perhaps even join the armed forces.

That’s why receiving a 3-foot steel piece of a floor beam from the World Trade Center is such an honor for the school, said Citadel fine arts instructor Tiffany Silverman.

At a special event before Friday’s dress parade, representatives from the Fire Department of New York City and the Independence Fund will present the fragment to The Citadel. The public is invited to attend.

Bo Moore, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said the gift came to The Citadel through a member of the school’s advisory board who had connections to the FDNY and the Independence Fund, a nonprofit group that provides assistance to wounded veterans.

“It’s one of the relatively few remaining fragments,” Moore said. “The supply has diminished significantly over the past 12 years.”

Moore said the fragment will be permanently displayed in the lobby of Capers Hall. The school has converted an old telephone booth into a recessed display case.

Moore said the fragment is a piece of a floor beam that was stored with many fragments from the World Trade Center’s south tower, although he couldn’t say for sure that the fragment came from that tower.

Silverman said a piece of the fragment has been cut away and removed. Workers cleaning the rubble often cut away pieces of steel, made crosses from them, and gave them to family members of people who lost their lives, she said, so it’s especially moving to have such a piece at The Citadel.

She plans to use it in fine arts classes because the events of 9/11 are so significant to cadets, most of whom were in elementary school when the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001.

She can’t teach fine arts at a military college the same way she would teach at a liberal arts college, she said. There has to be a link to the real world that hooks students’ interest, she said. The fragment is the kind of thing that will work for Citadel cadets.

The 9/11 memorial initially will be surrounded by an exhibition of photographs taken by military combat photojournalists after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The fragment, Silverman said, is a “living, breathing part of how we carry on our lives. It’s architecture. It’s history.”

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.