Interpreting the Last Column: In this series, 9/11 Memorial & Museum exhibitions staff share the stories behind the markings and tributes placed on the Last Column. The Last Column was the final piece of steel to be removed from the World Trade Center site marking the completion of the nine-month recovery period. A symbol of resilience and marker of loss, it now stands in the Museum’s Foundation Hall bearing its memorial tributes. If you signed or left a tribute on the column and would like to share your story, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the morning of 9/11, FDNY Lieutenant Dennis O'Berg responded to the Twin Towers with Ladder Company 114. Earlier in the morning, O'Berg had called FDNY Ladder Company 105, the firehouse of his son, firefighter Dennis Patrick O’Berg, and learned that the company had already responded to the World Trade Center site.
Lieutenant O'Berg arrived in lower Manhattan about five minutes before the South Tower collapsed. His rescue efforts soon transitioned into a search for his missing son, who had died as a result of the attacks.
O'Berg continued to search for the body of his son at Ground Zero in the months that followed, always carrying a memorial card with him. O'Berg later taped the card to the Last Column, signing Dennis's name and ladder company as a tribute to his memory.
While at Ground Zero, O'Berg allied with a group of fathers also searching for their sons, many of whom were first responders. Known as the Band of Dads, they supported one another during this emotionally taxing time.
“It turned out over a period of two or three months, we all were there, every day,” said FDNY Captain John Vigiano, a member of the Band of Dads and father of victims FDNY firefighter John T. Vigiano II and NYPD detective Joseph Vincent Vigiano in a 2001 interview with Fire Rescue magazine. “This core was there every day. I don't know who coined the phrase 'Band of Dads,' but it’s true. And to this day we find comfort in just being with each other, because we lived through the same pain.”
By Emily Edwards, Collections and Exhibitions Coordinator, and Katherine Fleming, Exhibition Coordinator, 9/11 Memorial Museum