This morning I had the honor of attending a dedication ceremony for the new Heroes of Freedom Memorial in our neighboring community of Wauconda. Frank Bart, Mayor of Wauconda extended a personal invitation to me to attend, and I am so grateful that I took the opportunity. This memorial has been years in the making, and is a tribute to those who sacrificed so much on September 11, 2001 and for those who have served in the years since in Afghanistan and Iraq in the Global War on Terrorism. The impressive memorial features a 19 foot tall beam from the World Trade Center North Tower, set on a Pentagon base, surrounded by four benches representing each of the four hijacked planes that crashed that morning. The memorial was constructed entirely with donated items, labor, services, and funds from Wauconda and the greater community.
Mayor Bart, himself a veteran, opened the ceremony which featured patriotic music from local bands and choirs, along with remarks from dignitaries. Three members of the NYFD traveled to Illinois to attend this service and speak of their experiences that day. Kirk Morris, a Gold Star father of Marine PFC Geoffrey Morris, spoke on behalf of all families who have lost loved ones to this cause. The Morris family has contributed greatly in the creation of this memorial. Dylan Morris took on the management, design and installation of the landscaping as his Eagle Scout project, and as a tribute to his fallen brother. He traveled to Shanksville, PA with his father to bring back soil from the crash site to be used in the raised flower beds.
I was most moved by hearing the words of Lt. Colonel Ryan Yantis, who is a 9/11 Pentagon Survivor. His personal story and remembrances, along with his encouragement to all of us to “continue to do what is right, to do what you can in your own life to serve our country,” was touching and inspiring. Today’s ceremony was an expression of honor, love, and support and I am humbled to have been able to participate.