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Rescue 343-2 9/11 Memorial is a local nonprofit dedicated to remembering the fallen heroes of our country, educating others about the significance of their sacrifice and honoring veterans and first responders.
Founded in East Canton nearly 20 years ago, the all-volunteer organization travels to schools, parades, festivals and other community events across Northeast Ohio with a larger-than-life memorial display assembled on a flatbed trailer. The 9/11 Memorial has doubled in size over the past year and features dozens of flags, boots, memorabilia and gear worn by veterans and first responders, along with other items.
As more people have interacted with the memorial over the years, many personal items have been given to the organization to display — including ash from the Ground Zero site collected on the day of the attacks. Displaying these items for the community allows the organization to further educate and emotionally resonate with those who visit.
“Most of our contribution to our communities is to memorialize all who have perished in the war on terror,” said Tracy Phillips, Rescue 343-2 9/11 member. “We have a strong focus in supporting our military and emergency service members as well. We just want to keep the memory alive for all who have sacrificed for our freedom and our country.”
One unique aspect of the organization is that its directors all have personal connections to the 9/11 terrorist attack, and the members of its board have family serving in the military. Veterans who visit are invited to sign their names on the memorial’s pentagon-shaped centerpiece display as a way for the organization to honor their service.
When people stop by the memorial to learn about the display, it offers a platform for conversation about their personal, and often emotional, connections to the 9/11 attacks or stories of loved ones who lost their lives serving our country.
After a conversation about 9/11, one first responder told the organization: “I wanted you to know how much it still affects me after all this time, and I wanted to say thank you for still bringing those memories back to the forefront.”
The 9/11 Memorial will be traveling next to the Louisville Constitution Day Parade on Sept. 24.