Belleville

September 3, 2014

Lack of money delays Sept. 11 memorial dedication

Lack of funding for a Sept. 11, 2001, memorial caused organizers to postpone next week's dedication ceremony, as a fundraiser for the memorial is in need of participants.

The September 11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois, which includes a 7,100-pound steel column from the World Trade Center, was scheduled to be dedicated this Sept. 11, but organizers are short of their $250,000 goal.

"We've temporarily postponed the dedication," said Sharon Strausbaugh, vice president of the memorial committee.

Instead of a dedication, a Moment of Remembrance ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 11 at Firehouse #4, 1125 S. Illinois St. in Belleville. The World Trade Center artifact will be on display.

"We're hoping this Sept. 11 will raise awareness," Strausbaugh said.

Meanwhile, the September 11 Memorial Walkway 5K Run/Walk has about 30 people signed up -- far short of the goal of 200 -- days before the race. It will take place at 9:11 a.m. Sunday at Hough Park, near the intersection of North Third and West C streets.

Ground was broken March 11 on the memorial. Construction was expected to be finished by this year's anniversary of the tragedy. Unfortunately, the group has only raised about $100,000. Ground has been cleared but the World Trade Center artifact is not on display and construction has not begun.

"We don't want to put the memorial out because people will think the project is done," Strausbaugh said.

The memorial committee is looking for corporate sponsors and applying for grants.

Strausbaugh said the entire project will cost about $500,000. She is hoping in-kind donations of services and supplies will cut the actual cash needed down to about $250,000.

Members of the community can support the cause by signing up for the run and walk. It costs $20, if you sign up online through midnight Friday at http://www.wtcmemorial.us/.

The cost jumps to $25 on race day. Sign ups will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday.

It's the third year for the run, but organizers are falling far short of their goal of 200 runners. Last year, about 185 signed up for the race, said Belleville Fire Captain David Zahn who is organizing the event.

"We haven't had very good response," said Zahn. "At this point, I'd be happy with 125 to 150 people."

Participants will get a shirt and medals will be given out to the top finishers in each age divisions. An after-race celebration will include snacks and entertainment.

Zahn called the race successful: It raised $7,500 in 2012 and $5,200 last year.

But he would like to see it grow even more and become an annual way to fund perpetual care for the monument and the grounds.

He equated Sept. 11, 2001, to this generation's Pearl Harbor: "Everyone knows where they were and it changed all our lives."

However, he thinks time heals all wounds, and 13 years later a lot of people have other worries.

Hopefully the monument, which will probably be the largest of its kind in the Midwest, will help remind people.

"I think by having this memorial, people can come here and they can experience it and just remember," he said. "I think this is something that the community, all of Southern Illinois, can be proud of."

Contact reporter Maria Hasenstab at mhasenstab@bnd.com or 618-239-2460.

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