KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, there's now a whole generation of people who were not alive when it happened.
The organizer behind the Overland Park 9/11 memorial hopes his work will help educate generations for years to come.
In 2010, Trevor Miller, a firefighter with the Overland Park Fire Department, heard that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was planning to give away artifacts from the remnants of the World Trade Center.
Miller went to his boss and suggested they submit an application.
When his boss asked why, Miller said, "It's important that we keep telling the history. Sept. 11 is a very sad day in America, but also showed what true Americanism really is. There's a lot of heroes. There's a lot of people that stepped up and did things that nobody expected people to do."
Miller originally thought they would get a small artifact to put on display. Instead, they got a 14-foot, 2.5-ton steel beam.
That beam now sits at the center of the 9/11 memorial in front of the Overland Park Fire Training Center.
The memorial also includes four panels with information about each of the downed flights.
Those panels have a unique feature: they're positioned so that, on Sept. 11 each year, the sun shines through a hole at the top of the steel beam and hits medallions on the panels at the exact time each of the planes crashed.
Next to the panels is the weeping wall: a water fountain meant to represent the ash and tears of those who survived the attacks.
Finally, next to the beam, there's a panel engraved with the names of all 2,977 people who died in the attacks. Below the names is the phrase, "No day shall erase you from the memory of time."
Inside of the training facility, several glass cases display artifacts and memorabilia that the community has contributed over the years, as well as photos and documents that show how the memorial came to be.
Miller said he hopes the memorial can serve as a place of comfort for those who experienced the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and a place of learning for future generations.
"[When] you see even just one person or a family sitting out here with their kids, and they're teaching the events of 9/11, then it's all worthwhile," he said.
The memorial is open to the public year-round, but there will be some special events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
On Friday night, the 9/11 memorial lights will be illuminated. Similar to the light display at ground zero, these two bright lights will shine directly into the sky, representing the two Twin Towers.
The lights will stay illuminated from sunset on Friday to sunrise on Sunday.
On Saturday morning, Overland Park will hold its annual memorial service, starting at 7:30 a.m.
The full schedule of events is available on Overland Park's website.
The service will also be livestreamed on the Overland Park Fire Department YouTube channel.