An Arlington Boy Scout carries on a mission to build a 9/11 memorial near fire station in Pentagon City
May 26, 2023
Two years after Eagle Scout Megan Mazel started building a memorial around a World Trade Center steel beam in Pentagon City, a fellow scout is finishing what she started.
In 2010, the New York City Fire Department gave a warped and rusted steel beam — salvaged from the wreckage of World Trade Center’s North Tower after 9/11 — to the Arlington County Fire Department. The county held a ceremony and pledged to build a memorial.
For more than a decade, however, the beam sat unadorned outside Arlington County Fire Station 5 in Pentagon City. Mazel, then a member of Boy Scout Troop 164, approached ACFD about giving the beam a more fitting tribute.
“Coming from a military family and first responder family, I was a little taken aback at the fact that they just dropped this significant piece of metal on the lawn near the fire department… and they didn’t do anything for the first 10 years of it being there,” Mazel told ARLnow.
In August 2020, Mazel began drafting a proposal. She envisioned a pentagon-shaped walking path surrounding the steel beam, with one point oriented north toward the Pentagon.
Since the beam was on county property, however, she encountered a lot of red tape. It took nearly a year for her designs to be approved, leaving Mazel three weeks to meet her deadline: the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
In that time, she managed to build railroad ties around the beam, add mulch and install three ground sleeves for flag poles.
“I think it turned out well for the time that I had in the situation that I was in,” she said. “But I wish that I could have done more to it.”
Now, Daniel Bode, a Wakefield High School student and scout with Troop 164, is adding to her vision.
Working around the county’s plans for the site, Bode said he secured approval to add flower beds and benches around the steel beam “to further enhance the experience” of the memorial.
“I wanted to add benches because there should be a seating area around the area, just so you’re not standing and looking down on it,” Bode told ARLnow.
Last weekend, Bode, Mazel, other scouts and Arlington firefighters started installing the flower beds and laying the concrete for the benches. This Saturday, Bode and his fellow scouts intend to install the benches.
He aims to have the site ready for a commemoration ceremony by military personnel on Sept. 9.
“We will come back and even out the mulch a bit. Clean up the concrete pillars. Make the area look nice and bolt in the benches. And then that should be it,” he said.
Capt. Joshua Milfeit, who assisted both scouts with their individual projects, said he is excited to see Bode finish what Mazel started.
“There is a plan of some sort from the county to make it a more permanent memorial,” he said. “Until there is a permanent memorial, we can still make it something nicer than it used to be, which was two wood stanchions with a piece of steel.”
For Bode, the project honors those who lost their lives on 9/11 and holds personal significance for him.
“I didn’t have any family members that were lost,” he said. “But, of course, having military parents and a lot of friends and family who are in EMT service, or police officers, or the fire department, it just touches close to home,” he said.
As for Mazel, she said she hopes that other scouts will continue carrying out what she and Bode have done so far.
“If people keep adding to it, and it keeps being an Eagle Scout project that keeps getting bigger and more generation of kids get to do research about 9/11, I’ll be perfectly fine with that,” Mazel said.