Freedom Engine parts return home to Knoxville

After the terror attacks on 9/11, East Tennesseans banded together, raising money for a fire truck to hand delivers as a gift to the New York City Fire Department. 9-3-14

(WBIR- Knoxville) Parts from the Freedom Engine are back home in Knoxville after more than a decade of service with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).

The artifacts from the East Tennessee-funded fire truck are on display at the Museum of East Tennessee History through Nov. 30.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, East Tennesseans banded together to help in any way they could.

Mickey Mallonee, former director of events for the City of Knoxville, said the idea came about to donate a fire truck to FDNY.

"We became one, and we were just out to show everyone that this was not going to get us down," said Mallonee. "We were going to continue and come back."

Previous: Remembering 9-11: The Freedom Engine

Michele MacDonald, curator of collections for the East Tennessee Historical Society, said the goal was to raise $300,000-$400,000 for a small pumper truck, but people continued donating beyond that mark. Together, everyone raised more than $940,000, which was enough to purchase a 95-foot tower ladder truck.

MacDonald said the truck has been serving the Harlem-based Ladder Company 14, locally known as "Heaven in Harlem." The truck went into reserve status last year so the museum asked to showcase some of the parts.

"I think this is just an event that touched everybody's heart in a lot of different ways, and these are kind of tangible remembrances to the parts East Tennesseans played in the whole event," MacDonald said.

On display at the museum are the captain's hat, the dedication plaque, the tower bucket door, and a plaque that includes a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.

"The Freedom Engine itself seems to have a life of its own," Mallonee said. "And even if they're parts, it's still that you can never get away from that feeling of that wholeness that we had when we were doing this."


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