Stained-glass artists create 9/11 memorial for Fort Meade

Three-panel work includes fragment from World Trade Center

  • At a ceremony on Sept. 11 at Fort Meade, members of the base's Directorate of Emergency Services were presented with a stained glass image honoring first responders. The work featured a piece of metal from the World Trade Center (center panel, to the right of the flag) that was given to the department by a police officer who responded to the attacks on 9/11
At a ceremony on Sept. 11 at Fort Meade, members of the base's… (Peter Crispino, Baltimore…)
September 11, 2014|By Peter Crispino | For The Baltimore Sun

Personnel and guests at Fort Meade gathered Thursday, on the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost that day — and pay tribute to 411 fallen first responders with the unveiling of a stained-glass image that includes a piece of the World Trade Center.

"It has been 13 years since New York City, New Jersey, and the D.C.-area emergency responders became the stuff of legend as firefighters, police officers and paramedic EMTs followed the call of duty into the pages of history," Deputy Garrison Cmdr. John Moeller told the crowd.

To honor those first responders, artists Janet Parker and Ray and Marge Nichols presented Fort Meade's Directorate of Emergency Services — the department that houses the base's police, fire and emergency responders — with the stained-glass work created to commemorate the attacks.

The three-panel display features a piece of the World Trade Center that was given to the department by retired police Sgt. John Gorman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, who was among those who responded Sept. 11, 2001, after the attacks at the World Trade Center. Gorman spoke at Fort Meade on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

The artists incorporated the piece of the World Trade Center — a dark, rectangular piece of metal — into the center panel of their work, which features a glass depiction of the image of three firefighters raising the American flag at the towers' site after of the attacks.

The two other panels pay tribute to firefighters and police officers, including a re-creation of the badge worn by members of the Directorate of Emergency Services.

The work will be permanently displayed in the entrance to the Directorate of Emergency Services building on base.

The unveiling represented the final act of a project three years in the making. After receiving the piece of the World Trade Center in 2011, Prevention and Training Chief Wray Kinsley kept the relic in his office, unsure how to display it.

"I kind of held onto it, had it sitting on my desk until we figured out what we're going to do with it," he said.

"In my head I had several ideas that would do it justice but ... it turned out so much better than it could have ever hoped. I don't even know what to say. It's a very appropriate and honorable way to display it."

Two years ago, Kinsley showed the piece to his friends Ray and Marge Nichols, a husband and wife who are both retired Baltimore County police officers and now stained-glass artists.

Ray Nichols suggested it become the centerpiece of a stained-glass 9/11 memorial, and agreed to work on the project. The Nicholses worked with Parker and Martha Hanson of Paned Expressions Studios in Edgewood to create the piece.

After listening to the Nicholses' ideas for the piece, Parker, the studio president, and Hanson, the studio's principal artist, laid out an design that incorporated stained glass, etching and painting.

"It's very involved. This is probably one of the most intense pieces we have ever done," said Marge Nichols, who has taught stained glass at Harford Community College for more than 15 years.

All four of the contributors donated the labor and materials that went into the piece, calling it an honor to work on the project.

For the Nicholses, it was an opportunity to offer support to first responders in a way they could not 13 years ago.

"We were already retired when 9/11 happened, so we were not able to help in any way," Marge Nichols said. "This is our way of giving back."

"We've done a number of things, but this was by far the best work we've ever done," Ray Nichols said. "It's definitely the most meaningful project we've done."

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