Groundbreaking ceremony for Wauconda memorial

Nearly 14 years after hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, people gathered Wednesday in Wauconda to break ground on a local memorial to the 9/11 attacks.

Set in the shade of tall trees near the village's police station on Main Street, the memorial will feature a 20-foot-long beam salvaged from one of the fallen twin towers.

That 13,000-pound relic rested on the back of a flatbed truck, just feet from Wednesday's ceremony.

"It fell 13 years ago, and it will rise again here in Wauconda," Mayor Frank Bart told the crowd.

The memorial will be built on village-owned land but is being funded entirely with private donations. Bart has been the project's biggest cheerleader at village hall.

The effort was launched by ex-Gurnee Trustee Kirk Morris who has tried to create a memorial in Lake County since his son, Marine Pfc. Geoffrey Morris of Gurnee, died in Iraq in 2004.

A foundation Morris founded acquired the beam, and he agreed to share it with Wauconda after similar plans in Gurnee fell apart.

According to design plans, the artifact will be displayed vertically on a pentagonal platform. Walls, benches and other elements also have been proposed.

A public unveiling is scheduled for Sept. 11.

Wauconda Fire District Chief David Dato, Wauconda Deputy Police Chief Thomas Bender and Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran were among the speakers Wednesday.

Dato talked about how memorials like the one planned for Wauconda keep national tragedies "fresh in our memories."

Bart, a military veteran, lost his composure as he talked about the sacrifices of the people the memorial will honor.

"For those brothers and sisters who I served with and can't be here, this is for them," he said.

Wauconda resident Kerry Triggs was among the civilians in the audience. She brought her 2-year-old daughter, Eloise, and 5-week-old daughter, Eleanor, to the ceremony.

"It's a thing to be proud of for our community, that we have this," Triggs said.

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  Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart talk about the sacrifices made by people the new Sept. 11 memorial in Wauconda will honor. Steve Lundy/
  The planned Sept. 11 memorial in Wauconda will feature a World Trade Center beam. Steve Lundy/
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