Harper Woods dedicates 9/11 memorial featuring World Trade Center beam

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published September 12, 2017

 Petty Officer 2nd Class John Iacovetta reenlists in the Navy Reserve during the dedication of the 9/11 memorial at AMVETS Post  No. 57 in Harper Woods Sept. 11. The oath of enlistment was administered by Cmdr. Joe Rheker, right, as Iacovetta’s mother, Soo Lee, left, held the Bible he swore on while event organizer Sean Gunnery, rear, held up a microphone.

Petty Officer 2nd Class John Iacovetta reenlists in the Navy Reserve during the dedication of the 9/11 memorial at AMVETS Post No. 57 in Harper Woods Sept. 11. The oath of enlistment was administered by Cmdr. Joe Rheker, right, as Iacovetta’s mother, Soo Lee, left, held the Bible he swore on while event organizer Sean Gunnery, rear, held up a microphone.

Photo by Sean Work

The Harper Woods community commemorated the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, with the unveiling and dedication ceremony for a new memorial to those who died on that day, and those who sprang into action to save others.

The memorial consists of a steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center embedded in a stone base with plaques explaining what happened on that day and dedicating the monument to the victims.

The ceremony took place on Sept. 11, 2017, at the memorial’s site: AMVETS Post No. 57 at 19730 Harper Ave. in Harper Woods. It was led by Kathy Sarvis-Adamski and Sean Gunnery, who spearheaded the project to create the memorial.

“I think the dedication went beyond wonderful,” said Sarvis-Adamski. “I want to make sure we carry the education about Sept. 11 on. I am so happy that it’s here, it’s staying here and we can share it with others. Always remember, never forget.”

The proceedings began with the Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums band marching in. The monument was unveiled, and an invocation was performed by Bishop D.L. Bradley, pastor of the Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Faith Church in Clinton Township. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by the post’s auxiliary sergeant-at-arms, Carmen Simpson; the flag was raised by Boy Scout Troop 273; and the national anthem was sung by Girl Scout Rhoby Rausch.

Gunnery and Sarvis-Adamski explained the efforts that went into bringing the project to fruition. Sarvis-Adamski said it was an 18-month process. It began with the New York and New Jersey Port Authority donating the steel beam to the Harper Woods Fire Department. It was then decided to use the beam as part of a permanent monument, and the AMVETS Post volunteered to host and care for it.

Following the procurement of the base, embedding the beam in its side and the addition of the plaques, the completed monument was transported to the AMVETS Post with an escort of more than 100 AMVETS Riders Aug. 5.

Among them was Dawn Rallo, the secretary and treasurer for the AMVETS Riders at Post No. 57. She and her husband joined the convoy to bring the memorial to its final resting place.

“Knowing it was coming here was a very overwhelming feeling, because we all remember that day,” said Rallo. “A lot of people lost their lives that day, and it meant a lot to have this at our home post. We worked very close and very hard with Kathy (Adamski) and (Sean) Gunnery.”

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Navy Petty Officer John Tyler Iacovetta, who was 9 years old and living in New York on the day of the attacks. He hopes those who see this memorial can learn about that day and empathize with those who died or lost loved ones to the attacks.

“I hope people here feel the emotion of this,” said Iacovetta. It’s not for people my age or older, it’s for younger people who never experienced that day. I hope they can put themselves in my shoes and ask how it would have felt to be a fifth-grader on that day.”

Iacovetta’s speech was followed by words from Harper Woods City Councilman Tom Jenny, AMVETS Post No. 57 Ladies Auxiliary President Maureen Jones, Auxiliary Chaplain Nancy Jones and Daughters of the American Revolution Louisa St. Clair Chapter Regent Kay Burt-Willson.

Sarvis-Adamski and Gunnery closed the event and invited those who attended to a reception. Many of the attendees were deeply touched by the ceremony. Among them was Harper Woods Mayor Kenneth Poynter, who shared his thoughts on how he hopes people are reminded about the threats to the United States and those who serve and sacrifice to protect it.

“This memorial serves as a symbol that freedom is not free,” said Poynter. “It comes at a cost. What we once thought was unthinkable happened, and we have to be on alert.”