Gathering support, rubble for 9/11 memorial in Philly

A Philadelphia nonprofit wants to build a 9/11 memorial near Independence Mall that would consist partially of rubble from all three sites where planes crashed that day.

As a first step toward that goal, the group, Phila911 Inc., called on nearly 100 off-duty police and ex-military bikers to retrieve fragments from the destruction at the Pentagon.

Glenside’s Wayne Lutz, one of the event’s organizers, is the founder of the Warrior Watch Riders — a biker group that helps celebrate the return of deployed soldiers.

“It’s a matter of keeping [9/11] alive in everybody’s awareness. It’s a matter of making sure that people don’t forget,” said Lutz.

For Vietnam War veteran Jonathan Scharff of South Brunswick, N.J., gathering to commemorate 9/11 is a way to right the wrongs of the past.

“These are guys who are dedicated to not let our current men and women in harm’s way come home the way that a lot of us came home,” said Scharff surrounded by his former brothers in arms. “Memorials like this are important for young people to remember what a lot of people have died to provide them.”

Organizers say the memorial would be located at Seventh and Race streets in Franklin Square, and built without cost to taxpayers.

The centerpiece of the exhibit would be a life-sized replica of the Liberty Bell in which the bell’s famous crack would be filled by steel salvaged from the World Trade Center.

Philadelphia officials, who have yet to grant the project official permission, will listen to the group’s pitch at a meeting within the next few weeks.

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