Wauconda mayor cheers inclusive memorial vote as he departs
Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart didn't see his preferred successor win in the recent election, but he leaves office with the consolation that the township's Heroes of Freedom Memorial will be more inclusive.
The question of including veterans of the wars that came after 9/11 on the memorial was debated over multiple township board meetings before it became a referendum, Bart said on the Chicago-based radio talk show Illinois Rising recently.
"It's odd, from my point of view, that they would try to divide us over a unifying event like September 11," Bart said. "Obviously, everyone can remember that day. Everyone who lived through it knows how unifying it was and how important it was for all of us to come together."
Bart decided not to seek a second mayoral term and will be succeeded by Wauconda Trustee Lincoln Knight, who defeated local real estate agent Bryan Anderson on April 4. Bart endorsed Anderson, while Knight, who has filed for personal bankruptcy protection, spent the past four years criticizing Bart's handling of a number of Wauconda projects, including the Heroes of Freedom Memorial.
The memorial stands near the southwest corner of Route 176 and Main Street and was erected after a proposal by former Gurnee Trustee Kirk Morris, who obtained a 7.5-ton beam recovered from the World Trade Center's wreckage after the 9/11 attacks. Morris lost a son in the subsequent Iraq War, as did two other families in Gurnee, Bart said.
"He (Morris) wanted to pay tribute to these fine young people," Bart said.
Earlier this year, Wauconda village and park district officials began to consider linking the district's memorial honoring veterans of the two world wars and the Heroes of Freedom Memorial, dedicated in 2015 in to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The proposal included a path and signs, according to published reports.
However, some candidates for trustee in this month's election said they were opposed to veterans of the Global War on Terrorism, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan being included in the memorial. Bart said such opposition was a bit of head-scratcher.
"The only argument that was posed was that wars are controversial," he said. "All wars are controversial. That's what makes it a war: They resorted to armed conflict instead of diplomacy."
The issue ended up as an advisory question on this year's ballot, with Bart, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, publicly pushing a "yes" vote. Voters came out soundly in support, passing the measure with more than 70 percent of the vote.