Oak Lawn Never Forgets
Oak Lawn Patch
September 12, 2011
By Lorraine Swanson
Ten years ago their eyes were trained on burning buildings and scorched earth. On Sunday, their eyes were fixed on a monument to the resilience of the American spirit, as four beams from the World Trade Center came to rest outside of the Oak Lawn Metra Station.
Hundreds of residents turned out for the dedication of Oak Lawn’s 9/11 First Responders Monument on Sunday morning, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America.
Although the permanent installation is still under construction and won’t be finished until November, one of the beams and both original spires created by artist Erik Blome were on display. The other beams that will join the installation were lying nearby on a flatbed truck.
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), who visited eight different 9/11 services Sunday throughout the Southland, pulled off the black shrouds veiling the bronze spires and one of the twisted beams of the World Trade Center.
“Make no mistake, it was our freedom that was attacked on Sept. 11,” Lipinski said.
Standing in the presence of the beams that seemed at peace in the plaza, Blome said he and the other volunteers felt guided by the spirit of Father Mychal Judge, the New York City firefighters’ chaplain who became the first recorded casualty of the World Trade Center disaster.
“I thought of all those who died there—the civilians, the firefighters, everyone,” Blome said.
He thanked the volunteers who worked in extreme heat in non-air-conditioned workshops pouring molten bronze into ceramic molds made of the same material as the outside of the space shuttle.
“The process of bringing metal together has a unique magic about it that artists like me see as a metaphor for life,” Blome said. “As you push forward, things have a way of coming together, of working in harmony as a unity even if you feel they aren’t as you go. You have to have faith and keep your eye right on the line, like a welder. That’s how I feel about this project and my experience in Oak Lawn.”
The monument was a project of the Oak Lawn Rotary Club in honor of its 50th anniversary in Oak Lawn.
After the dedication, residents filed by the monument, placing their hands on the beams, as if remembering the day and where they were, and how far they’ve come.
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