Building a Monument to First Responders

Archive for December, 2011

Looking Back on Monumental 2011

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2011 was an amazing year. Thank you to the countless volunteers and donors who helped us get this far so soon.  Click on the smaller photo to view it larger.  Happy New Year!

Monument site construction paused for winter

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Construction is officially paused during hopefully a short winter season at the monument site. With the large beams in place, both sculptural elements in proper position and the majority of the concrete work done, the Oak Lawn Rotary Club’s 9/11 First Responder Memorial is a wonderful destination to visit, even though not yet complete.

What remains to be finished will be stone caps for the concrete walls, pavers for the ground, and signage that lists our wonderful donors and the story of the Memorial. There will be another kidney bean shaped concrete ground form around the free standing sculptural element.

Two additional broken/horizontal beams will be placed there and we hope to have a bronze sculpture of a folded firefighter uniform over boots and police uniform over boots in place there as well. If funds are raised for these additional sculptures, they will be placed in the late spring to early summer as our Monumental Artist Erik Blome is leaving in the next few weeks for Egypt for work on his Fullbright Award. He will be in Egypt for several months.

In the new year, the wonderful Monumental Team at the Oak Lawn Park District will begin working on the wood forms for the center kidney bean shaped concrete area. The rest of the Monumental Team will be working on the signage and the final details that will ensure that our Monument is everything it can be.

Please plan on coming by and seeing it! It is really something special. We are very proud and appreciative of the community support which has gotten us this far. It won’t be long until completion now!

The Monument can be seen at the Metra Station indicated with the blue symbol at the center of the map above.

Monumental Wreaths Hand Made With Care and Love

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When the Oak Lawn Rotary Club went shopping for memorial wreaths for the 9/11 First Responder Memorial there were none that seemed to be a good fit. They had to be something very special, and patriotic in nature.



They commissioned a local grandmother, Mrs. Joanne Bronzell, to design the wreaths. Joanne was more than happy to help. She was supplied with the basic materials and donated her time and talent to create four separate memorial wreaths, each made with love and care. “I wanted them to be a special tribute,” she said.

The wreaths were stored until the day came when all four beams were finally installed on site. The wreaths were placed by Artist Erik Blome, Public Works Employee Gerald Chickerillo, Rotarian Sandy Bury, and USMC Col. Art Clark.

Your Monumental Team wishes you a warm and memorable Holiday Season.

Photos of the First Large Beam Installed by Local 150

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It was very exciting watching these guys work on the installation of the big beams this past Thursday. The weather was blustery with gusts over 20 mph, but the professionals got it done. Thanks so much Local 150 guys! You are awesome!

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One year ago…

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It was a year ago today that our Monumental Caravan arrived in Oak Lawn with our beams. The escort consisted of two Oak Lawn Police Officers and two Oak Lawn Firefighters. The beams were drivenby Dale Tilma from the storage facility at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The vision for a Memorial to First Responders sparked hundreds of acts of service in Oak Lawn and across the Southland. It was on this frigid day a year ago that the spark of an idea began to form. A positive and unstoppable force in this community emerged from the destruction and pain that these beams represent. Oak Lawn is forever changed for the good because of it.

I’d like to give my sincere thanks to everyone for their amazing and heartfelt efforts throughout the year.

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Local 150 Places Beams Perfectly

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More pics coming… but I wanted to post a few to highlight the amazing work of the Local 150 Operating Engineers who have been strong partners of this project from the very beginning. They are awesome!

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Stop by and check out the Monument site!






Standing Tall and Proud Again in Oak Lawn


More pictures coming later but your Monumental Team is proud to say that our beams and sculpture are standing tall and proud today at the Oak Lawn Metra Station. Local 150 brought the big crane and manpower today and put a smile on everyone’s faces. Great job everyone! Please stop by and check them out!

Stay tuned…

It looks like a BEAUTIFUL DAY in Oak Lawn! More details later…

A Hi-Tech Solution for Cracked WTC Concrete

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I had a brief chance to chat with Mr. Rick Swanson of Hi-Tech systems. He told me a little bit about his business. It started over 30 years ago under the name Progressive Fastening Systems. Their specialty is earthquake related concrete repair.

They manufacture and distribute expoxy products, low pressure pumps, blades, nozzles, valves, tools. polyurea products, road repair products and spall repair products. They are located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and have had their products used in high profile seismic repair projects across California.

What touched Rick about our project was his personal connection to the events on 9/11. He had a dear friend who was in the second tower when it was hit. Thankfully, he was able to escape before it fell. The events of that day profoundly moved Rick and when he heard about our beams with their crumbled concrete, he knew that he was the man to stabilize things. He had the tools, the excellent and proven product, technology and expertise.

We sincerely believe that there is no one in the world more qualified to stabilize our historic concrete that Mr. Rick Swanson of Hi-Tech Solutions. It was a pleasure to watch him work and teach the Public Works guys how to do things. His professionalism and passion were delightful. His knowledge of his product and the dynamics of concrete was unsurpassed. Personally, I was awed by his generosity and kindness.

Thanks again Rick and Hi-Tech Systems! If you want to learn more about Rick’s company and excellent technology, see, or click ====> HERE <=====

Here’s a slide show from that day:

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An angel from Rancho Cucamonga lands in Oak Lawn

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When Architect Jim Petrakos gave Chic (Gerald Chickerillo) at Oak Lawn Public Works a resource to call for ideas on how to stablize the concrete on the beams, he made a point to call personally to find the best solution.

Here’s Chic’s account of what happened next:
“I phoned the company early this morning hoping that they would be open; given they are on the west coast. I was greeted by a pleasant voice that turned out to be the owner of the company, Hi-Tech Systems. They have an epoxy product that is going to be injected into the concrete to help keep everything in it’s place. The gentleman introduced himself as Rick Swanson and asked how he could help me. I explained that I had some questions about their product including costs and delivery to the Chicagoland area. He answered my questions by asking how I heard of their product and company. I answered that TRIA Architecture had recommended their product for our needs. I hadn’t even finished explaining our project and how the product was going to be utilized when Mr. Swanson interrupted me and stated, “here is what I am going to do for you. I am going to donate all of the product and tools necessary to get this work completed.” Before I could thank him for this wonderful and thoughtful donation towards our project; he followed this statement up with, “I will be flying to Chicago late next week to instruct your men on the proper application of the product” to insure that everything is completed in a timely manner so that we can get the beams raised…”

Wow. Not only was Rick Swanson of Hi-Tech Systems making a sizeable donation of materials for our Monument, but he was flying to Oak Lawn to personally supervise the project! Chic was speechless and so was I when I heard.

After a quick request to Rick Harmon at the Oak Lawn Hilton, a room was secured at Oak Lawn’s finest lodging for our traveling angel. Thanks to the Hilton for being such a steady and solid supporter of our Monumental Project!

Rick with Hi-Tech asked that when the materials he was shipping arrived, that they be stored at a specifc temperature to ensure the right flow of the epoxy. He also asked that the beams be stored at a warmer temperature too, so that the application would be perfect. He suggested halogen lights be placed on the product and beams to help warm them.

Rick spent 11 hours in transit to Oak Lawn and, after a few hours rest, was ready to work. I had the privilege of meeting this remarkable man as he was just getting started at Public Works. I’ll share more of his story and his motivation in the next post.

A wonderful thing about the Oak Lawn Rotary Club’s First Responder Memorial is that it proof that goodness can follow great evil. It is a constant reaffirmation of the goodness in people, and that America’s greatest treasure is the spirit of service and compassion of its citizens.

Mr. Rick Swanson really blew us away with his kindness. Here is a man with no connection to Oak Lawn, and nothing to gain by coming here. In fact, it cost him quite a bit. He merely wanted to do it because he believed it was the right thing to do. Thanks so much Rick!