When 15-year-old Boy Scout Jeff Cox attended the Eagle Encampment in June 2009 to learn more about The Trail to Eagle—the detailed process for the Leadership Service Project required to become an Eagle Scout—he had no idea of the journey that would follow.
For the past eight months, Jeff has worked tirelessly to build the first 9-11 Memorial in Florida. Jeff presented the idea to Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn and then navigated through the complex process to obtain a steel beam from the World Trade Center (WTC) ruins and get it to its resting place in the Orlando area where Jeff is a local resident and member of Boy Scout Troop #6.
At a ceremony on February 20, the Windermere Sept. 11 Monument and Garden was unveiled as the first official World Trade Center Memorial in Florida. The twisted beam, shipped by UPS Freight, is the focal point of the memorial now showcased at the Windermere Town Hall in the Central Florida District.
Q: How did you initially think you were going to get the 650-pound metal beam to Florida?
A: I thought my family was going to have to drive to New York to pick up the beam using a pickup truck. But then my mom suggested I go online and call some of the big shipping companies. The first company I called hung up on me. I called them back, but got nowhere. When I got in touch with UPS, they were willing to help right from the start. UPS Freight stepped up to transport the metal at no charge from the NY/NJ Port Authority to Florida. UPS definitely saved us the trip and the hassle and is the carrier to rely on.
Q: Were there other obstacles to getting the gnarled piece of metal to UPS for shipping?
Because the steel beam is still considered crime scene evidence, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York had to authorize its release before UPS could move it. Once clearance was approved, I called my cousin in Los Angeles who created sculptures for Oliver Stone’s movie “World Trade Center” to get advice on the size and shape of a piece that would be most suited for the memorial. Once UPS delivered the specified piece, I went to work immediately with excavation at the memorial site.
Q: What have you learned from this experience?
A: I’ve learned so much through scouting. Not just how to tie knots or survive back-packing experiences, but truly how to be a leader. My brother was also an Eagle Scout. He was a firefighter in Brevard County and was injured on the job in 2002. That was something that inspired me to take on this particular project. Along with this experience, I’ve become a mentor to other scouts in my troop. They were ‘stoked’ to help with this project.
Q: What do you hope the 9-11 Memorial will do for the community?
I was only 7 years old when 9-11 happened, so memories of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers weren’t as impactful to me then as they are now. I want this memorial to be a place where people can pause and reflect on a part of history in our nation, and it will be a reminder to future generations of the victims who died as a result of the attacks
Q: How does it feel standing here today with the 9-11 Memorial complete?
A: People kept telling me to dream big, and I’ve been amazed at the number of people who have helped make this dream come true. Thanks to UPS, the World Trade Center Association, the town of Windermere, Mayor Gary Bruhn and all the companies who made this dream a reality.
Boy Scouts of America National Commissioner Tico Perez attended the ceremony on the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouting. He knew that the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project that Jeff selected would be something special.
“This project united the troop and the community and gets us talking about things that matter,” he says. “Boy Scouts of America is making our country a better place, and we are honored to serve.
Jeff was elected to Order of the Arrow in October, Scouting’s National Honor Society. He is currently waiting on his final paperwork to be processed to become an Eagle Scout and has plans of going either to the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy some day.
With a tenacious spirit and the support of the community, Jeff’s plans unfolded into a one-of-a-kind memorial. His commitment to the project will impact generations to follow and inspires us to do things beyond ourselves.
|Category:||Caring for Communities|
|Tags:||9-11, Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout, Jeff Cox, Order of the Arrow, World Trade Center|