Local artist creates tribute to 9/11 victims

Sept. 1, 2011 (OAK LAWN, Ill.)

"I haven't touched it yet. I just can't bring myself to touch it. To me it's hallowed ground," said William Villanova, police chief, Oak Lawn.

The steel beams from the World Trace Center were put in place Thursday to form the base of the sculpture. It started with an Oak Lawn police lieutenant.

"One of our lieutenants - Art Clark - who is currently on his 4th tour in Afghanistan - came to me 2 and 1/2 years ago and said, 'what do you think?'" said Villanova.

The chief and the community, standing shoulder to shoulder Thursday, embraced the idea. The local Rotary Club raised the money.

"We've had donations community wide. We've had a dollar come in, we've had $10,000. Our goal is a $100,000,"said Dr. Sandy Bury, fundraising chair.

With that, they commissioned artist Erik Blome to build the sculpture, which consists of two bronze spires that will be placed atop the steel beams.

"September 11th, it's so complex, so multi-layered, and it's meaning for everyone, that I really had a challenge ahead of me in terms of what I conveyed," said Blome. "I decided rather than be totally abstract, which would have been an easy route to take...I decided to put realistic imagery into it, but I was very specific in the way I did it. I spent a lot of time refining and developing the images so they work together like a piece of music."

Along with remembering September 11th, the sculpture is for all those first responders who arrive at a scene.

"I think the passion of Americans, starting in local villages and saying, we're going to recognize on this 10-year anniversary, the resilience and the tribute to first responders," said Larry Deetjen, Oak Lawn Village Manager.

The dedication ceremony will be at the Oak Lawn Metra station on September 11th at 10 a.m. Everyone is invited to attend.

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