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'We didn't forget'

Morris to dedicate Sept. 11 memorial Thursday

It's been almost 11 years in the making, but Morris' Sept. 11 memorial will be dedicated with the raising of the flag on Flag Day, Thursday, June 14.

The dedication will be at 11 a.m. at the city's 9/11 Memorial Park, located on the southeast corner of the Big R parking lot at Illinois 47 and Green Acres Drive.

Morris Police Chief Brent Dite will make opening remarks and the dedication address will be made by Dave Bonomo, president of the Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District. Other city officials also will speak, the Grundy County Honor Guard will perform, and there will be a rifle salute and Taps.

"Anyone over the age of, probably, 16 was glued to their televisions that day. I remember every station, that's all it was . . . for days afterward while they were trying to dig out of that attack. The nation felt it from east to west and north to south. Hearts went out to New York across the country and across the world," Mayor Richard Kopczick said.

Locally, resident Charlie Doss brought up the idea of having a flag memorial shortly after the attack on America.

From Doss' idea, city officials and volunteers started gathering their input to create a unique idea to make sure Morris "never forgets," Kopczick said.

Kopczick said a big part of the delay in getting the project completed has been getting the property for the memorial. Walmart, which originally owned the Big R building, donated the property, but then Big R purchased the site and getting the transfer of the donation took some time. All in all, the process took years to complete.

In addition, the city had to do fundraising for the memorial. The original plan was to feature two 110-foot flagpoles flanking a 66-foot circular brick wall, which would have cost about $70,000.

The city scaled back the project and raised a little more than $45,000, said KJ Olson, the mayor's secretary.

The focal point of the memorial is a 110-foot flag pole that will fly a 30-foot by 50-foot American flag.

Along the back perimeter of the site is a wall erected from engraved bricks that individuals have purchased, along with a steel silhouette of the New York City skyline with the Twin Towers represented.

"People will see this, stop in and look and it and know we didn't forget," Kopczick said.

Over 250 bricks have been purchased and engraved for the memorial, but bricks can still be purchased. Bricks are $100 and will not be installed until multiple bricks have again been purchased again. Bricks that have been purchased already are on site, Olson said.

The mayor said this project took a lot of "blood, sweat and tears" from many volunteers, including the Will Grundy Building Trades, whose members volunteered their time. He also said the city expresses its gratitude to Big R for the land donation and the donation of one of the site's flags.

Crown Concepts donated the skyline silhouette, including the materials and labor.

"The site will be utilized for a number of different occasions. It's a monument to first responders and the armed service members," Kopczick said.

To order a brick, forms can be picked up at the Morris Municipal Services Facility, 700 N. Division St. The engraved bricks are available for $100 each. For more information, call the mayor’s office at (815) 942-5438.

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