THE REMAINING wreckage of the Twin Towers and the fire and rescue vehicles that were used in vain to try to save them are in Hangar 17 at New York's John F. Kennedy airport.
The goal of the artifacts' caretakers is to have the hangar largely empty by the 10th anniversary of 9/11 two months from now.
Some of the most poignant and emblematic, like the scorched and crushed fire engines, are destined for the museum and visitors center at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.
But others, mainly twisted and scorched girders and I-beams and chunks of concrete, are going to become part of memorials in town squares, municipal centers, airports, military bases and remembrance gardens.
A 15-foot, 7,000-pound segment of an antenna tower from the World Trade Center's North Tower arrived in downtown Quincy this week. The tower piece will be mounted alongside City Hall Plaza's existing 9/11 memorial and dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
The antenna tower piece has a special connection to Quincy: The tower carried a TV antenna manufactured in Quincy by Harris Broadcasting.
The debris is free and the New York-New Jersey Port Authority will ship any artifact under 150 pounds. For the largest pieces, the communities have to get it themselves, which is what Quincy did.
The al-Qaeda terrorists who flew the hijacked airliners, into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and, thanks to the heroism of the passengers, into an empty Pennsylvania field, believed their spectacular display of callous indifference to human life would humiliate and demoralize the United States, causing us to retreat from the Mideast.
Instead it infuriated the country, and al-Qaeda members and their allies and their leader, Osama bin Laden, paid for the attack with their lives.
The 9/11 artifacts are going to memorials in 1,000 communities in all 50 states and six countries. These will not be monuments to defeat, as al-Qaeda naively believed, but to a smoldering desire for vengeance.
"It is a piece of steel, but in reality, it shows the courage of steel that the men and women had on that day to save lives and to give up theirs," City Engineer Jeff Steinkamp said during Sunday's public viewing in Quincy.
The anger with which Americans responded to the attacks was not at all what al-Qaeda had in mind. These monuments will be an enduring testament to a nation's resolve.