(Florida Today) by Scott Gunnerson -- Road-weary New York City firefighters rolled into the Rockledge fire station Friday afternoon on bicycles as they escorted a piece of history on a 1,400-mile journey.
They followed a trailer down U.S. 1 that carried a 14-foot steel I-beam recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center after 9/11.
The twisted metal from the 60th floor of one of the twin towers will be delivered to the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce today. The firefighters organized the ride to bring attention to the sacrifices of Navy SEALs and military community.
"It means a lot emotionally and physically," Kevin McCormick said. "It's our way to say thanks to the Navy SEAL community and the sacrifices they make."
When they reached Rockledge, the firefighters' entourage was greeted by the sound of bagpipes from the Brevard Police & Fire Pipes & Drums before they sat down to eat pizza.
The group from Chinatown's FDNY Engine 9 Ladder 6 began the trek March 19 from the World Trade Center Memorial in New York and drew crowds along the way.
"People were clapping, cheering us on," McCormick said. "Literally, from north to south, the support as been enormous. They would see the steel and ask us what we were doing.
"All the sudden you would have a hundred people around us just to take a look at it."
One of the stops was at the Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C., where they paid their respects to those who died there on Sept. 11, 2001.
People who gathered to welcome the FDNY crew in Rockledge also took time to get images of the WTC I-beam with smart phones and cameras.
"What happened at the World Trade Center affected all of us, and it gives me chill-bumps just to look at the piece of steel," Rockledge fire chief Jeptha Sunday said.
The chief was proud that his department could offer the New York crew a little hospitality.
"When people think about fire departments, they think about the New York fire department," Sunday said. "It is pretty exciting to meet these guys and talk to them because firefighters all over the world are the same, it's a brotherhood."