Reporting Vince Gerasole
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OAK LAWN (CBS) – Among the many memorials planned for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, one in particular will bring actual pieces of the World Trade Center to Oak Lawn, permanently.
CBS 2′s Vince Gerasole has a preview of a monument that will stand in honor of first responders and the American sense of community.
On Tuesday, workers were buffing and polishing the sculptures that will commemorate the sacrifices made on 9/11 — two towering pieces that will soon stand among twisted rusted steel beams recovered from Ground Zero.
Sculptor Erik Blome said it was an emotional experience working with the pieces of steel, knowing where they came from, “especially the first few weeks I was working on them. It was … really, I didn’t want to touch them, let alone cut them.”
Blome was commissioned by the village of Oak Lawn to fashion a memorial incorporating four 22-foot beams from the Twin Towers, a labor that gave added meaning to his understanding of the tragedy he only knew from afar.
“You see an event like that and it seems like it’s in some other place. And then when you see the beams you realize how real the event was,” Blome said.
When complete, the memorial will rise beside the tracks at the village’s Metra station. It features sculptures of the faces of first responders as well as everyday Americans caught up in the events of September 11th.
Those images will be placed atop two of the beams cut and fashioned into pedestals.
“Even though we have it down at this level right now, you’ll see the faces looking downward, so when we have it elevated you’ll see those faces,” Blome said.
The beams were escorted to Oak Lawn from New York City by village firefighters and police officers and were met by law enforcement from various communities along the way.
Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said, “They heard about it and they would show up and escort it a few miles for their community, across the country.”
Blome called particular attention to the several joined hands he created to symbolize an American spirit of community that was emboldened that day.
“9/11 is all about togetherness, it’s all about coming together. I think people held hands that day. People who didn’t know each other held hands that day,” Blome said. “When you say first responders, we were all, in a sense, first responders that day.”
Procuring the pieces of the Twin Towers wasn’t easy. Village officials had to go through a lengthy process with the Port Authority of New York to assure they would be displayed in a respectful manner.
The monument comes with a $100,000 price tag, paid for by community donations and fundraisers. The sculpture will be dedicated on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.