Members of the East Northport Fire Department prepare a beam...

Members of the East Northport Fire Department prepare a beam from the 9/11 World Trade Center collapse to be transported from JFK Airport to their firehouse in East Northport. The relic will be part of a 9/11 memorial to be constructed there. (March 10, 2011) Credit: Jim Staubitser

East Northport Fire Department Lt. Frank Giovinco was working on the roof of a construction site in Queens on Sept. 11, 2001, and watched as hijacked jetliners brought down the World Trade Center.

Thursday, Giovinco made the pilgrimage to Kennedy Airport's Hangar 17 to pick up rubble from the towers and bring it back to his East Northport firehouse.

"We're taking this piece of steel home with us," Giovinco said outside the hangar.

Giovinco wasn't alone at the hangar, which contains tons of crushed steel, concrete and other items recovered from Ground Zero.

Firefighters from Stewart Manor also made the trek, as did firefighters and police officers from Crescent Springs, Ky.; Clyde, N.C.; Streetsboro, Ohio, and Acton, Mass. All were cleared by the Port Authority to take back pieces of Ground Zero steel to complement their 9/11 memorials.

The hangar, on the northwest part of the airport grounds, has become a storage yard for a world that no longer exists. Messenger bikes and emergency vehicles plucked from the Ground Zero wreckage are there. So is a huge Hudson River valve once used to regulate the World Trade Center's air-conditioning.

Beginning soon after daybreak Thursday, the rescuers began pulling up in their flatbeds and pickups.

Giovinco led a caravan of eight firefighters from East Northport to Kennedy. They loaded up Piece G-0010 -- an 81/2-foot-long steel column severed from a lower floor of the north tower.

As they prepared for the hourlong drive back to their firehouse, Giovinco and the men draped the beam in an American flag and stood and saluted.

The flag they unfurled was on loan from a family who had used it to drape the coffin of a 9/11 victim, Giovinco said.

Officer Jon Stackhouse of the Acton police was taking a 10-foot piece of steel to place in a town 9/11 memorial.

"We're fortunate to bring a piece of it back to the community," Stackhouse said.

Acton is the hometown of Madeline Amy Sweeney, the American Airlines Flight 11 flight attendant who relayed critical details about the hijackers to a ground supervisor before her plane crashed into the north tower. She is credited with helping federal authorities jump-start their investigation.

Some of those at the hangar Thursday had been at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001. But all said the attacks were still on their minds nearly a decade later as they loaded up and left the airport.

"We're bringing home history to East Northport," Giovinco said.

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