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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Wall honors those who died Sept. 11

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Charles Irwin and Mark McMillon prepare the September 11 Memorial Wall for its coming display at Nunnelee Funeral Chapel
(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON - Although not everyone knew someone who died as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, most everyone was affected in some way. Now local and area residents have a chance to show their respect by visiting a memorial wall honoring those who lost their lives that day.

The 10-foot tall, 24-foot wide tribute listing the names of the 3,044 people who died will be displayed at various locations throughout the community beginning Sept. 3-5 at Nunnelee Funeral Chapel.

The wall will be moved to Veterans Park Sept. 6-10 with a vigil service planned at 7 p.m. the final day there.

On Sept. 11 it will be taken to the Field House where a memorial service will take place at 10 a.m.

"I definitely believe that people should attempt to attend either the vigil service or the memorial service," encouraged Ron Steinmetz, executive director of Bootheel Counseling Services. "For many people the vigil service will allow them to be more inner reflective and to be thankful for the country they live in, as well as other thoughts that they might have about their own lives as it relates to the severe loss that occurred on Sept. 11.

"The memorial service would offer the opportunity for a larger support network, and to be aware that when push comes to shove in our lives there are a variety of people who are there to help us. The memorial service will certainly put emphasis on an event that tied us together in many ways and will emphasize that that event will never be forgotten."

At each location guests are invited to sign a register which will be sent to the 9/11 Memorial Foundation in New York to show the victims' families that Southeast Missouri residents are thinking of them.

Sheila Branch, a first-grade teacher at Matthews Elementary, said she's pleased with the idea.

"I think that the entire country was affected by Sept. 11 so therefore, a memorial in this area is appropriate. We have all suffered the affects of the events of Sept. 11. Families in this area lost family members. That is a historical event and I think it is a great idea for a memorial to be here in Sikeston."

As part of the tribute, balloons will be released every hour for 10 hours a day in front of the Memorial Wall until all 3,044 balloons representing each victim of the Sept. 11 disaster have been released. Individuals interested may make a donation of $1 or more to the Sikeston 9/11 Fund to sponsor one of the helium-filled balloons.

Individuals also have the opportunity to adopt a name among the list of victims. A memorial gift of $10 or more is asked but any contribution may be made. Donors may select a name or one will be chosen for them.

To adopt a name send the contribution, indicate the name of the person to be memorialized or that you wish for the name to be chosen for you, name and address to Sikeston 9/11 Fund, P.O. Box 182, Sikeston, Mo., 63801.

The Sikeston 9/11 Fund is being administered by the Sikeston Cultural Development Corporation and all contributions are tax deductible.

Half of the funds will be sent to the New York University Child Study Center which has established a foundation and is working with children who were directly impacted by the attacks.

The remaining half will be presented to the Sikeston Department of Public Safety's Fire Division which will use the funds toward the purchase a $15,000 thermal imaging camera used to photograph walls to detect hot spots in fires.

"This thermal imaging camera is phenomenal. If you're in a hot area it can detect areas that are hotter than others," explained Capt. Jim Hailey of the DPS Fire Division. "It's very helpful in finding hidden fires inside walls." He pointed out the camera also is helpful in finding humans, whether they're trapped firefighters or victims.

"I think the Memorial Wall is a great idea, there were a lot of people who lost their lives in an act against the civilian population, not military. It really brings it all home," said Hailey, who knew a couple of people involved in the tragedy. "You can be here one minute and gone the next, whether you're in New York City or Sikeston, Mo."

"I think that the Memorial Wall will bring us closer together in expressing our feelings regarding a traumatic event," Steinmetz said. "It allows us as individuals to see how much we actually share in common and how we are similar in so many ways. Personally, when I see the 3,044 names on the wall I believe that I will have the reality of what actually happened on Sept. 11, 2001 brought home to me like it has never been brought home before."

Editor's Note: Organizations which would like to be involved with the Memorial Wall activities should contact Tom Nunnelee at 471-2242.