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Bel Air High School Receives Artifact from World Trade Center Attacks

The school will create a permanent memorial in town centered around the steel beam it received.

When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 2001, most of Robert Handy’s students were too young to remember. But that will not keep social studies chairman from commemorating the victims.

The school recently received a piece of a steel beam from the site, which will be incorporated into a local memorial.

The school was selected to receive the artifact after Handy led 20 students in the 2003 WTC Site Memorial Competition. The entry, which did not win, can be viewed here.

“We only had about 60 days to do it,” Handy said. “The artwork was the students. I did some of the writing.”

He said the town has connections to the attack, despite the distance from the city.

“I think part of it was, there were individuals in the community who knew individuals in New York,” Handy said. “I take students to New York in an annual field trip and the World Trade Center was always a central focus of that.”

Now the school will provide a central focus for the town to honor victims of the attack. The piece of the beam will be on display outside the school auditorium in September for the 10th anniversary of the attacks. After that, a permanent location will be determined.

“We’re going to involve teachers and students. There’s a committee already meeting,” Handy said. “Once the showcase is down, then we’re going to make it part of the community here.”

Handy hopes part of the memorial will include a bench made for Dale Burger Jr., a former Bel Air student and Marine who died in Iraq. The bench was moved when the new school opened in 2009 and has yet to be relocated.

“He was a bright student but really wanted to get into the armed services as soon as possible,” said Handy, who added that Burger left school early to enlist.

Handy said the memorial could be set up at a number of places in town, but that he would “like to keep it here at school some place.”

It would serve as a reminder for students who were too young to remember what Handy will not forget.

“The world changed that day,” he said.

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