It is said to be the largest non-federal 9/11 Memorial in the southeast, and its right here in Middle Tennessee. Folks in Rutherford County paused today to remember the thousands of people and public safety personnel who died during the terrorist attacks 11 years ago.
Tonjua Austin drove an hour and a half to bring her daughter to see the 9/11 Memorial at the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
"I just wanted to come out and see a piece of the building, the tragedy that shook America's core," Austin said.
Like many, she remembers the exact place and what she was doing when tragedy happened.
"Just the souls that were lost, the general feeling you get," Austin said. "It happened so far away, but so close to home."
The 3,000-pound I-beam from Tower One of the World Trade Center in New York City was donated by the 9/11 Commission. The three pillars that hold it up at an angle represent EMS, police and fire personnel who died that tragic day, fire being the tallest since more firefighters lost their lives.
"It's a memorial to all those who died that day, but also the ones who survived the turmoil that day," Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold said.
The two fountains at the memorial represent the footprint of the Twin Towers. There is also twisted steel, a broken clock with the exact time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center and other debris forever embedded at the base of the beam.
Sheriff department officials said even the positioning of the beam has special meaning. If you travel 747 miles northeast, you'll be at Ground Zero.
"We've been told our celebration here is the largest (non-federal memorial) outside of New York City, in the entire country," Arnold said.
Retired Army Reservist Floyd Veals knows about history. Veals Road in Rutherford County is named after his family.
"We know the symbol of this. A whole lot of people went down behind this," Veals said.
When he first touched the rusty piece of steel he thought of the victims.
"All those people who got killed when the plane hit that tower," Veals said. "I hope it never happens again."
The celebration runs from 4-8 p.m. This is a family event, so there is a lot of stuff for kids to do, including a petting zoo, inflatables and a lot of food and fun.
The ceremony honoring the 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks will begin at 6 p.m.
There is some parking at the sheriff's department, but folks are encouraged to park at the Tennessee Expo Building on Park Avenue off Middle Tennessee Boulevard. The city's Rover Buses will transport people to the event for free.