A ceremony was scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 27, at the Joint Safety Services Building to unload structural steel from the World Trade Center for use in Hilliard's new First Responders Park.

A ceremony was scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 27, at the Joint Safety Services Building to unload structural steel from the World Trade Center for use in Hilliard's new First Responders Park.

Approximately 25 uniformed members of the Hilliard Police Department and the Norwich Township Fire Department made up a 10-vehicle caravan that left the city at 8 a.m. Tuesday to escort the shipment of steel from the World Trade Center to Hilliard.

The steel will be installed as part of the design in the new $1.6-million First Responder's Park in Old Hilliard.

Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt said the WTC steel is being transported back to Hilliard by Bulk Transit Corp. of Plain City, which donated a flat-bed trailer, fuel and driver for the trip.

"It's fitting that our police and fire officers accompany this precious cargo back to Hilliard as both a demonstration of our respect and as a tribute to those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001," Schonhardt said.

He said the city is also agreed to bringing back steel for the cities of Macedonia and Cleveland Heights, which are constructing memorials of their own.

The itinerary called for the officers to assemble Tuesday morning and caravan from the Hilliard to JFK Airport in New York, where steel remnants from the World Trade Center are being stored in a jet hangar. The entourage was expected to arrive at JFK's Hangar 17 between 7 and 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The caravan and flatbed were expected back in Hilliard sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight on Wednesday. Schonhardt said the steel will be unloaded Thursday morning and stored in a secure bay at the Safety Services Building.

A dedication ceremony fro the First Responder's Park has been scheduled for Sept. 11, 2010 at the opening of the Old Hilliardfest Street Fair and Art Fair.

Hilliard is getting approximately 13,500 pounds of steel from the World Trade Center, including a 1,000-pound flag pole from the Church Street entrance to the trade center plaza. The flag pole is one of only five flag poles recovered as part of the salvage operation.

Hilliard's plans for the steel were reviewed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which agreed the First Responder's Park was an appropriate use of the steel. Pieces of the steel structure are all that remain from the twin towers that collapsed after being struck by terrorists who hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the two World Trade Center towers.

"Our memorial will commemorate all who lost their lives that fateful day in 2001," Schonhardt said. "But its focus will be on the brave men and women in uniform - those first responders - who gave their lives in a valiant effort to save others."

Schonhardt said he hopes Hilliard's First Responder's Park will become hallowed ground to honor the men and women in uniform who are first on the scene in an emergency.

"Decades from now, it is my fervent hope that our First Responder's Park will provide visitors a place to pause and reflect on those who often are called upon to give their lives while saving the lives of others," he said.