It is a rust-colored steel column, but it now stands proudly outside of the CIA headquarters just beyond the nation’s capital. This column was salvaged from the debris of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 tragedy.
The column weighs 9,000 pounds and is more than 17 feet long. It was from World Trade Center Building Six and was found on basement levels.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey gave the artifact to the CIA in late 2011. Up until now, it has been housed inside the headquarters.
CIA Museum Director Robert Byer said in its original location, the relic was a haunting reminder to those who passed by.
“Because it was in a contained space, when you walked past it, you noticed the scent of smoke. Fifteen years later, you could still smell the smoke from 9/11,” Byer said on the CIA’s website.
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist-guided airplanes were flown into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and a third one crashed in a field in Pennslyvania. The attack was planned by Al Qaeda mastermind Usama bin Laden. Nearly 3,000 died in the attack.
Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan ordered by President Barack Obama.
CIA staff gathered on Tuesday for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the exact time when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
CIA Director Gina Haspel told her staff in a note reflecting on the 17th anniversary: “Every year, the anniversary of 9/11 is a time for both remembrance and renewal. It’s a time to remember not only the lives we lost, but also the resilience of the American people, the strength of our values, and our determination to stand up to terrorism.”
She added: “As much as anyone, CIA epitomized our nation’s fighting spirit following 9/11, putting boots on the ground in Afghanistan only 15 days after the attacks.”