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Andrew Benson said he doesn’t usually get choked up.
He’s also not usually in the position he was in Friday.
A big crowd gathered at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant for the arrival of a flatbed truck carrying pieces of steel from the World Trade Center.
The steel will be part of a 9/11 memorial at the fossil plant.
Benson said he knew three people who died during the terrorist attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. He mentioned them during the ceremony.
“It takes a lot to shut me up, but this is one of them,” he told the crowd as he choked up.
Benson is a maintenance coordinator at the fossil plant. He’s also a firefighter in Cumberland County. TVA credited him for coming up with the idea for the memorial.
“It was all Andrew,” TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said. “His heart’s in New York, and when he heard there was a chance to do it, he asked the plant managers. The plant managers asked the executives, and everybody said do it.”
Benson, a Navy veteran, said he grew up in upstate New York outside of Syracuse. Two of the people he knew that died on 9/11 were firefighters. The other was a former shipmate of his.
“Being from New York and being from military, it hits home,” he said. “Having a chance to do this, it’s not for me, it’s for everybody here because we cannot forget what happened that day. We need something to actually put our hands on and see what actually happened that day.”
The memorial will be opened to the public. Brooks said they hope to have it finished before next month’s 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“The urgency was to get it down here,” he said. “Until yesterday they didn’t even know what it looked like, so now they have to sit around and say how can we make it fit with the ideas that we have.”
The flatbed truck carrying the steel was led into the plant by a motorcade of police vehicles. The ceremony featured a 21 gun salute, the playing of taps and “Amazing Grace.”
“9/11 kind of brought us a realization that it could happen to us,” said Mike Roberts, a member of the Volunteer State War Era Veterans Honor Guard. “It really hit home.”