A Lasting Memorial

This Tuesday, April 12, marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederates’ first shots on Fort Sumter, the start of the Civil War.

In God’s grand scheme 150 years is but a day (actually, a little more than three and a half hours, if you calculate by 2 Peter 3:8). Even from our limited perspective it’s less than twice the average American’s life span.

It’s difficult, at least for me, to believe that we’re quickly approaching the 10th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on American civilians. The memory of the moment I first heard the news is still fresh, as it probably is for you.

The Man on the Monument, downtown Urbana, Ohio.

But time marches on. Memory fades.

Even so, reminders of the War Between the States still stand among us. In Urbana, Ohio, every time we navigate the roundabout on Monument Square we see the iconic Man on the Monument. He’s an unnamed Union cavalryman preserved in bronze, head poignantly bowed for his fallen comrades—a testament to the 578 Champaign County men who gave their lives to preserve the Union and the principles and freedoms it was founded on.

Urbana firefighters and paramedics stand in front of the World Trade Center steel on Saturday.

In this same spirit, the Urbana Rotary Club stirred our memories and emotions on Saturday. The Rotarians coordinated a caravan of emergency vehicles and motorcycles, which escorted through the county a flatbed truck bearing a flag-draped, twisted and bent steel beam—a testament to the violence of 9/11 that brought down the World Trade Center and with it the lives of 3,000 innocent victims, including one of Champaign County’s own, Alicia Titus, a United Airlines flight attendant.

The caravan, witnessed by hundreds of Champaign County residents, came to a stop at Freedom Grove, where the twisted steel will become the centerpiece of a memorial to 9/11. To be designed by local artist Mike Major, the memorial will be dedicated this September 11, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, reminding future generations of the terrorist attacks, just as the Man on the Monument reminds us of the sacrifices that saved our country from destruction.

Fred Maine, who transported the WTC beam from New York, speaks Saturday at Freedom Grove.

Freedom Grove, at U.S. 68 and State Route 55 on the south end of Urbana, sits on land leased by the Rotary Club for a dollar a year from the Champaign County Board of Commissioners. The Rotary Club is developing the six-acre park through a countywide collaboration of organizations and citizens. It already includes:

  • Monuments dedicated to Americans who have sacrificed their lives for freedom, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror
  • A bell tower that houses Champaign County’s Bicentennial bell
  • A one and a half mile walking path

Click here to find out how you can support the development of Freedom Grove, the 9/11 memorial and pay tribute to loved ones.

Watch a WHIO-TV report on the 9/11 memorial.

Read an Urbana Daily Citizen article about the WTC steel procession.

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