Plans are moving into high gear for the arrival of artifacts from the collapsed twin towers of the World Trade Center to Hattiesburg and The University of Southern Mississippi.
Two pieces of twisted metal from the towers will be delivered from New York City to Hattiesburg on Friday, Sept. 2 before being officially transferred to Southern Miss during halftime of the university’s season-opening football game on Saturday, Sept. 3 against Louisiana Tech.
Hattiesburg Fire Department Chief David Webster, who is serving as the steering committee coordinator for events involving the twisted steel project, said the artifacts’ arrival represents a significant opportunity for the city and the Pine Belt region.
“The events of September 11, 2001 deeply affected our community, especially first responders,” said Webster. “With the twisted steel artifacts, we will now have a tangible connection with those who perished that day for time immemorial. For someone in the first service like me that lost 343 brothers that day, it means a great deal.”
Marten Transport Ltd. is handling the transportation at no charge and will pick up the pieces – each measuring 72 inches in length by 12 inches wide by 1-inch thick and weighing approximately 200 pounds – on Thursday, Aug. 25. While en route to Hattiesburg, the pieces will make a stop in Atlanta for display outside Turner Field as the Braves host the Washington Nationals on Thursday, Sept. 1 in Major League Baseball action.
Once safely in Hattiesburg, the pieces will be available for public viewing on Saturday, Sept. 2 in the downtown area at a time to be determined. Later that afternoon the artifacts will be transported in a processional from downtown Hattiesburg to the Southern Miss campus.
Fans on hand for the Southern Miss-Louisiana Tech game (scheduled for a 9 p.m. kickoff) will have an opportunity to view and touch the artifacts before the contest begins.
The pieces will be permanently housed at Southern Miss’ National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security. A fund-raising campaign will be launched to erect a 9/11 memorial, incorporating the metal artifacts, on campus.