Jeff Cox’s monument serves as the gathering place for anniversaries of the 2001 attack upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A wreath was placed at a 2012 service by Mayor Gary Bruhn. He was accompanied by families of 9/11 victims.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––When Jeff Cox, was a 15-year old Boy Scout in Windermere, Fla., people kept telling him to dream big.
In 2009, he was looking for an Eagle project when the idea of a 9-11 memorial was mentioned at a summer Scout camp. He was only 7 years old and lived 1,500 miles away from the tragedy, but he was enthusiastic about the idea.
He drew a proposed design of the monument on a paper napkin at an ice cream shop with a newly found friend Sterling Folk, who thought it was a great idea too.
Steel from the World Trade Center
Jeff’s dream received a jump start when he learned that he could obtain a steel beam from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Mayor Gary Bruhn and Jeff wrote a letter to the NY/NJ Port Authority to assure them that the twisted 650 pound steel beam would go towards a memorial. They had to wait months as the steel was still considered part of a crime scene.
“I thought we were going to have to drive to New York to pick up the beam using my pickup truck,” said Jeff. “But then my mom suggested I go online and call some of the big shipping companies. UPS Freight stepped up to transport the metal at no charge from the NY/NJ Port Authority to Florida.”
First memorial in Florida
With a tenacious spirit, 2,000 volunteer hours, and the support of the Town Council, Jeff’s plans unfolded into the first official World Trade Center memorial in Florida. The monument includes 90 colorful hand-drawn tiles that encircle the beam. Each tile has an image representing the homelands of the almost 3,000 victims.
“It was just meant to be,” said Jeff.
Dedicated in February 2010, the monument now sits next to the Windermere library as a place for meditation and a site for 9-11 anniversary services.
Some 1,300 people attended the unveiling and dedication ceremony. The service included music, prayers, a motorcycle parade by the Patriot Guard Riders, and a flyover at the end of the National Anthem. The Rev. Dr. Bill Barnes, pastor of St. Luke’s UMC in Orlando, gave the benediction.
Jeff was awarded the Glenn and Melinda Adams Award of the National Eagle Scout Service Project. His project was selected from 55,000 submissions.
Jeff is also a founding member of the International Messengers of Peace, and at age 16 he was named Orange County’s Citizen of the Year.
Jeff received a Good Samaritan Award, the highest youth award presented by United Methodist Men, during the 2013 National Gathering of United Methodist Men.
“I’ve been amazed at the number of people who have helped make my dream come true, “Thanks to UPS, the NY/NJ Port Authority, the town of Windermere, Mayor Gary Bruhn, Sterling Folk, and especially my Scout Troop 6 which meets at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, who helped made this dream a reality.
See video of Jeff and the memorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdpb8tPNDF0
See video greeting to the National Gathering of United Methodist Men by Wayne Brock, chief Scout executive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XEnEB9Qbs8&feature=youtu.be