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Artwork from 9/11 concrete goes on national tour

By Staff | Sep 4, 2013

Cape Coral artist Sandra Priest has spent a good chunk of time making sculptures out of the concrete from one of the most brutal attacks in the history of our nation.

On Saturday, she said farewell to them, as they began a national journey which began at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers and will end in Utah, but not without making a few stops along the way.

The start of the tour was commemorated with a farewell event that featured live music from one of the music world’s biggest names, as well as some of Lee County’s finest as its honored guests.

It was also held as a fund-raiser for a $30 million memorial to be built to remember those who lost their lives on that day.

The tour will take two sculptures, named UT6 and All, and Star 11, on a 5,000-mile trek across the country to showcase them so people can view a piece of Sept. 11 from the slurry wall from Ground Zero.

The final destination of the artwork will be the Fort Douglas Military Museum, which will be used as a war monument to commemorate those who died from during the period of the first Iraq War until now.

The tour will make several stops along the way. The first was at the NASCAR event in Atlanta on Sunday, where it also went to an Atlanta Braves game.

It will also stop in Indianapolis, Louisville, Chicago in Daley Plaza, through St. Louis and Oklahoma, Amarillo, Texas, and then to Salt Lake City on Sept. 21.

The UT6 and All sculpture will be unveiled Oct. 7.

But first the sculptures were on display here, where people got the chance to come up close.

“They are here for people to view them and have photos taken with them and come closer to healing with 9/11,” Priest said.

Priest said they were parts of the slurry wall that had to be removed to put a new subway station in. When those pieces were cut out, the CEO of the company that did the work saved some for history.

Soon after, Priest was given the honor of doing the sculpture work on the acquired concrete after they found her online, having just completed another 9/11 inspired work in 2007.

“They found me online and they hired me to do all of them. I have 11 of them around the U.S.,” Priest said. “Any town that takes one has it take on a life of its own, dedicated to that area.”

Priest spent anywhere from six months to a year working on them. Her “Project 11-up” program has been in business for three years.

She has also gotten help from Kay Kraft, who has guarded the concrete from the slurry wall and whose late husband dreamt of having sculptures made out of the blocks cut out of Ground Zero.

“I’m just trying to fulfill his wishes. I protect it from destruction or people trying to take something from it,” Kraft said, who was emotional watching the day come to fruition. “He wanted to see something go forward, so here we are.”

Not only did people get to see the sculptures, which sat on large semi trucks, but also had a chance to view other 9/11 reminders, from the fire helmet of a fallen firefighter to remnant of the Twin Towers.

They also got to see music from Diane Nagy, Bert Lynch and Nathan Osmond, the nephew of Donny and Marie Osmond.

“What an honor to be here and kick off this tour. We want people to touch, feel and heal,” Osmond said. “We’re raising funds to build the biggest memorial in the U.S. in honor of our gold star families who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.”

The monument, which will be built in Kansas City, hopes to have enough money to start building by early 2015.

Osmond took photos with firefighters from the San Carlos Park and South Trail fire departments, which came to support the event.

“It touches everyone who works for the fire department. It’s a day to remember every day for us,” said Alexis Rothring, public information officer for the San Carlos Park fire district. “It’s amazing to be invited and represent the districts in the area.”

Also there to lend support to Priest and the event was Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan, who always comes to support causes for veterans those who fell.

“I came to make a point. We can’t ever forget what happened on 9/11 and that we should remember and thank our veterans and our way of life,” Sullivan said. “We need to remember the veterans after 9/11 who protected our way of life.”