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Thousands trek to unlikely 9/11 memorial in small-town Minnesota

A 10-foot, 600-pound rusted steel beam from the World Trade Center sits at the center of a 9/11 memorial in Marshall, Minn., and in the year since it was established, it has become a quiet place of reflection, the Star Tribune reports. A prayer service is scheduled at the spot Tuesday to mark the 11-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., far from the town of 14,000.

Craig Schafer, a local history buff in Marshall, Minn., who works for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, was inspired in the work he did inspecting the Trade Center ruins at a Staten Island landfill in 2002 as part of his job as an emergency response specialist, the Star Tribune reports. Ultimately, Schafer brought a 10-foot, 600-pound beam back to Marshall from New York, the newspaper says.

The town last year established a 9/11 memorial with the beam as its centerpiece, the newspaper reports. A prayer service at the site will honor the memory of those lost in the terrorist attacks 11 years ago.

Elsewhere around the state, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed Tuesday a day of remembrance and he ordered flags lowered to half-staff for the day at state and federal buildings in Minnesota, the Associated Press reports.

In Eagan, Phillippi Equipment Company has used towering cranes to hoist a pair of U.S. flags, along with a large photo of a U.S. soldier cradling a wounded Iraqi child, high above its parking lot along Highway 55, Eagan Patch reports.

President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney plan to take a one-day break from politics on Tuesday, CBS reports. The two will not appear together as Obama and then-opponent Sen. John McCain did in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The World Trade Center complex, still under construction, has returned to the NYC skyline, CNN reports. A budgetary dispute that had delayed the opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum on the site has been resolved, and work on it has resumed, CNN reports.

NBC's Rock Center examines progress on the new World Trade Center:

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A work designed by artist Michael Richards during his residency at Franconia Sculpture Park now has a permanent place in the park. The unveiling of the work was a tribute to Richards, who had studio space in New York's World Trade Center when the towers were destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.