At Christmas in 2009, Alex Aprea and his parents went to New York. They saw the Statue of Liberty, roamed the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, like so many other tourists, the Sacramento family visited ground zero.
Aprea was 12 at the time and already starting to think about his Eagle Scout project. The day he and his family visited the Tribute WTC Visitor Center across the street from ground zero, the Boy Scout decided to bring a piece of history to Sacramento.
Next month, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Aprea is completing his Eagle Scout project by temporarily placing a memorial in Cesar Chavez Plaza, complete with a steel beam from the ruins of the twin towers.
"The planes weren't crashing here in California, so it's important to allow people who don't have the opportunity to go to New York to see what happened and to touch a piece of history," said Aprea, 14, who is starting his freshman year at Jesuit High School this fall.
Aprea's neighbor Andy Peszynski, who is the father of a fellow Scout and owner of Davison Iron Works Inc. in Sacramento, agreed to build the monument that he and Aprea designed together.
The memorial will consist of three steel I-beams two 13-foot ones standing behind the 2-foot steel beam that was sent from the World Trade Center and will be placed atop another steel beam, boosting it to 4 feet. These beams will be set on a steel base plate and dedicated with a plaque, all totaling 1,200 pounds.
Meeting the Tribute WTC center's president, Lee Ielpi, helped Aprea decide to pursue the memorial as his Eagle Scout project.
"Mr. Lee Ielpi told me the story of his son, who perished on September 11, and how he felt that we shouldn't blame people for this," Aprea said. "It was ignorance and hate that caused this event, and religious tolerance and understanding will keep something like 9/11 from happening again."
Last August, Aprea became a Life Scout and was able to start planning the project and taking the final steps to becoming an Eagle Scout. He started raising $1,500 to pay for the project by writing letters to family and friends.
"People have been open to the idea and glad to see something like this being done," Aprea said.
Aprea's mother, Sharon, said that the most rewarding part of seeing her son pursue this project was seeing him approach it with a perspective that has not been jaded. "I've enjoyed the youthfulness, the glee with which he solves problems," she said.
The money he is raising will cover the $600 cost of moving the steel beam from ground zero to Sacramento, the forklift rental to move the monument in and out of the plaza, the insurance for the month that the monument will be in the plaza and the equipment needed to host the dedication ceremony on Sept. 11, to which he has invited seven different religious groups to speak about their perspectives on the attacks.
The memorial will be placed in Cesar Chavez Plaza on Aug. 26 and removed Sept. 16, when it will be moved to a still-to-be-determined city park with fewer monuments.