January 2012

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N.Y. Member: 9/11 Memorial Not Just a Job

Like most Americans, New York Local 3 member Dennis Moran remembers exactly where he was the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. The 27-year career electrician was working in Queens, breaking down the set-up for the just completed U.S. Open Tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows Corona Park when the news came on the radio — an airliner had just struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

For Moran, the memories of Sept. 11 will always run deep — not only because he is a born-and-bred New Yorker — but because too many of his IBEW brothers, some he knew personally as friends and neighbors, did not make it home that day.

One of them was Charles Luciana, who was 35 when the terrorist attack caught him and two of his co-workers — James Cartier and Ralph Licciardi — on the 105th floor of the South Tower.

"All you could think was that there were brothers in that building," says Moran. While he had never worked in the trade center itself, he had done enough jobs in lower Manhattan to know that on any given day there were dozens of electricians at work in both towers.

Not only was Luciana a fellow IBEW brother, but a neighbor of Moran's in the close-knit blue collar town of Long Beach, a New York City bedroom community located on a sliver of Nassau County jutting into the Atlantic. The single-family bungalows and detached homes of this former beachside resort town are populated by firefighters, police officers and construction workers, occupations overrepresented among the victims of 9/11. The city of 33,000 lost 11 of its residents that day.

"I live and work in one of the biggest cities in the world, but it took a tragedy like this to see the close bonds we have with each other," Moran says.

Local 3 was hit hard, losing 17 members that morning. Local 1212, a broadcast local, lost four. All were on the job at the World Trade Center.

When plans were announced for a national Sept. 11 memorial on the site of the former World Trade Center — a project that would require hundreds of electricians — many Local 3 members expressed mixed emotions. Going to work every day to a place that was home to one of America's greatest tragedies would be a challenge for any member.

"Some people just felt like they couldn't handle being here," Moran says.

But for Moran and the more than 350 Local 3 members who wrapped up work on the memorial last summer, the project is a needed reminder of the largest foreign attack on the United States and a fitting tribute to the 21 IBEW brothers lost that day.

"It's a way to work through the collective trauma," he says.

The memorial consists of two reflecting pools — both nearly an acre across — in the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 2001 attacks are inscribed in bronze panels alongside the pools. Also inscribed are the names of the six victims of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, as well of the victims of Flight 93, the hijacked plane that crashed over Pennsylvania after passengers struggled with terrorists.

It also features the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. LED lights located beneath the falls illuminate individual names on the memorial at night.

The names are also accessible on the 9/11 Memorial's Web site at www.911memorial.org. They can also be viewed through a memorial app developed for the iPhone.

Moran worked as a foreman on the memorial project, supervising a crew of about 16 that helped wire the lights and projection screens that greet visitors as they move around the pools.

Last spring, Moran was asked to be in a public service announcement for the memorial — along with 9/11 first responders, relatives of World Trade Center victims and actor Robert DeNiro — that aired nationally in the weeks leading up to the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Wearing his hardhat to the shoot, Moran was asked by the producer to remove his Local 3 stickers — a request he declined.

"The IBEW was there when the towers fell and we were there to build it back up," says Moran. "I wanted to make sure our sacrifices and contributions didn't go unnoticed."

Moran kept his stickers, which made it into the final product, which can be viewed on the 9/11 Memorial's YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/sept11mm.

The memorial opened Sept. 11, 2011, to record crowds, with more than half a million visitors from more than 100 countries since its grand opening. Work continues on the 9/11 museum, which will be located beneath the memorial, featuring artifacts, oral histories and other items related to the World Trade Center and Sept. 11.

"The tragedy of Sept. 11 was felt by every single IBEW member, and the 9/11 Memorial is a permanent reminder that we will never forget those lost on that day," says Local 3 Business Manager Christopher Erikson. "For Local 3 to have played such a big role in bringing it to life is a great honor."

Cost overruns have push back the museum's opening until sometime next fall, but Moran, who is continuing as a foreman on the project, says construction is moving along smoothly.

"Unions get such a bad reputation from politicians these days," he says. "It is good to be involved in such an important project to help remember all the heroes we lost."

The names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 2001 attacks are inscribed in bronze panels alongside the pools at the 9/11 Memorial.

Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user skinnylawyer