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9/11 memorial advocate disappointed in Kirkland’s reaction to patriotic sculpture

The sculpture features three figures, a firefighter, police officer and a flight attendant, holding hands and facing outwards. There is gap between the fire fighter and flight attendant, so that the viewer can be a part of the piece and hold hands to complete a circle. (Photo courtesy David Lewis)

The City of Kirkland rejected a proposal to become the new home for a sculpture memorializing 9/11. But the woman who hoped Kirkland would embrace the sculpture as part of their landscape is shocked by why people would reject it.

“Why do we need this here? It happened 3,000 miles away. It happened 13 years ago. Why can’t we move on?” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley as he summarized many of the comments left online in regards to the installation of the sculpture by the Spirit of America Foundation.

Maureen Baskin was taken with the sculpture when she first saw it. “Back in November, I happened to be in Leavenworth during the Veteran’s Day celebration. I saw this sculpture on the back of a flat bed truck and immediately, these figures, these artifacts, I knew they must be from the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.”

The sculpture features four figures, a fireman, a flight attendant, an office worker and a member of the military, holding hands and facing outwards. There is a gap between two of the figures, so that the viewer can be a part of the piece and hold hands to complete a circle. Steel and stone from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are also incorporated in the sculpture.

Baskin introduced herself to the artist, Dave Lewis, and learned the Spirit of America Foundation was taking proposals from cities hoping to be a steward and home to the piece.

She took her effort to find the sculpture a home to the City of Kirkland. First, the city’s arts council approved it, then did Kirkland’s parks department.”Everyone was enthusiastic about it and they found the location in Juanita Beach.”

Then Baskin took her proposal to the Kirkland City Council. “First of all, when you go there as a citizen, you only have three minutes (to make your pitch,) not enough time to talk about the history behind this.”

Even though one of the councilmembers almost immediately said they should pass the proposal, Baskin said she felt the tides start to turn.

“One of the members said, ‘Wait a minute.’ He clearly already had a speech made. He was well-prepared. And although he said, ‘I think we should approve the money and approve the proposal. Before we make any decisions, we should put it out for the community to decide. They might not want a sculpture, they might want something contemporary,'” Baskin recalled. “And I thought, this is not going to go well.”

The county issued a survey that attempted to be unbiased, and because of that, Baskin said it was not flattering or encouraging of the sculpture.

The process was frustrating to Baskin. “It was just disappointing […] I’m a very patriotic, a very respectful person. I think 9/11 happened to the whole country, not just the East Coast,” she said. “I see it much differently than a lot of people do.”

The foundation has taken proposals from other cities that are interested in being home to the sculpture. It’s likely it will find its final home in Eastern Washington.

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