NEW YORK (AP) — Behind the barbed wire, the minivan’s busted windows and crumpled roof hint at its story. But forklifted to this windblown spot on the John F. Kennedy International Airport tarmac, between a decommissioned 727 and an aircraft hangar, it’s doubtful passing drivers notice it at all.
In the long struggle with the memories of 9/11, though, the van’s solitary presence here marks a small but significant transition point.
Tons of wreckage — twisted steel beams, chunks of concrete smelling of smoke, a crushed fire engine, a dust-covered airline slipper — were salvaged from the World Trade Center site for preservation after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Now, 15 years later, this van from a government agency motor pool likely sheltered in a garage beneath the complex, is the last artifact without a resting place.
When the van is claimed it will fulfill a pledge that, to move beyond 9/11 without losing sight of it, New York would share relics of that terror, along with the tales of sacrifice and fear that come with them. The decision to give away pieces of wreckage has been praised and criticized over the years. But its impact is undeniable.
More than 2,600 artifacts have gone to 1,585 fire and police departments, schools and museums, and other nonprofit organizations in every state and at least eight other countries.
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