NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There was a special delivery Saturday at the September 11 Memorial and Museum.
A set of massive stone slabs will now stand in honor of those who died from 9/11-related illnesses.
Against the backdrop of Lower Manhattan’s ever-changing skyline – and the buildings that jut into the sky – six pieces of granite will rise up from the hallowed ground.
On Saturday, the monoliths were slowly and carefully lowered into place. Vermont firefighter Andy Hebert is one of the two men who helped create them.
“It was something really special for me to be able to do something to remember all of them,” Hebert, an assistant chief with the Plainfield Vermont Fire Department said.
The new memorial is dedicated to the 90,000 people who still suffer from illnesses contracted from the toxic dust unleashed by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Many of those affected were emergency responders who dug through the rubble searching for survivors. More than 2,100 have died.
The monolith is for them – called the 9/11 memorial glade.
“You had to get the blocks and saw the slabs,” Hebert explained.
The Vermont firefighter spent months chiseling the granite pieces by hand.
“Then we would saw the bevels on the bottom.”
Part of the design has been inlayed with steel from the original World Trade Center. Once the stones were ready, they were loaded up on trucks and shipped from Vermont.
Many people stopped to pay their respects along the journey to New York.
“They were all saluting us on the way down. It was so incredible. It brings tears to your eyes,” Hebert said.
Each slab weighs between 13 and 17 tons and they all had to be brought in on separate trucks because of how much they weigh.
A small group of students from Augusta, Georgia watched as the monoliths were lowered. A new generation of visitors to Ground Zero, some of whom weren’t even alive on that tragic day in 2001, came to pay their respects.
“I feel great that it’s dedicated to them now,” 17-year-old Tyajah Howard Thomas told CBS2.
In every stone, the character and courage of those who lost their lives since that day will now live on forever.
The glade is expected to be open to the public on May 30. That date marks the 17th anniversary of the official end of the recovery effort at Ground Zero.