Wauconda 9/11 memorial plan becomes political
Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart is surprised that he has to stand up for military veterans.
As a former military man who still bleeds red, white and blue, Bart can’t imagine why anyone would argue against a tribute of any kind being erected to honor the men and women of the military.
But come the April 4 consolidated election, that issue will be on the ballot when residents can vote on an advisory question of whether an unfinished Heroes of Freedom Memorial should be limited to just the names of 9/11 victims or also stand as a tribute to troops who have fought in subsequent wars.
“It kind of shocks the conscious as to why someone would oppose telling the story of the U.S. armed forces and their fight against terrorism,” Bart said on Friday during an appearance on The Morning Answer radio show.
“We're memorializing the sacrifices of those who stood strong for us,” he said. “For others, it’s just about doing what they want to do, what they choose to do, instead of doing what I think is the right thing and honoring those who served the country.”
A faction of candidates running for trustee on April 4 are opposed to veterans who fought in subsequent wars being part of the Heroes of Freedom Memorial, which will be anchored by a 7.5-ton beam recovered from the World Trade Center.
Dedicated in 2015, the memorial stands near the southwest corner of Route 176 and Main Street and was proposed by former Gurnee Trustee Kirk Morris, who obtained the beam. He later lost a son in the Iraq war.
In addition to the landmark piece of steel, the memorial also features a large wall listing the names of people killed on 9/11.
But the storyboards associated with the project still remain absent as the two sides battle over what they should feature and stand to represent.
In Bart’s mind, the answer is clear.
“I think it’s important to honor the mission,” he said. “The idea of the memorial was to honor those who sacrificed on 9/11 and in subsequent wars.”
The April 4 election and the answer to the advisory question could go a long way in determining that.
“A lot of trustees waxed on about how they wanted to be inclusive, but in doing so they excluded the military from the dedication plaque,” he said. “You’re trying to be inclusive by excluding the military and not accepting the dedication plaque as it was written?”