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Freedom Memorial Design Altered

Great Falls Freedom Memorial will include remembrance of 9/11 victims.

The Friends of the Great Falls Freedom Memorial have decided to slightly change the proposal for the memorial before submitting plans to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final design approval, after receiving input at the Great Falls Citizens Association meeting on March 2. The changes being adapted are intended to subtly incorporate the six 9/11 victims from Great falls who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Centers.

The Board of Supervisors originally approved the design concept for the Great Falls Freedom Memorial on Sept. 29, 2003. Since that time, the group working on the design has made numerous changes to reflect community and local government input into the project.

The latest changes have not yet been submitted to the Board of Supervisors. Three design changes are being promoted that will honor the 9/11 victims. As Michael Kearney, the head of the group, points out, “This memorial, the idea for it, came out of a candlelight vigil on the anniversary of the attacks. We want to do something here with this that honors that.”

“Obviously they’ve taken to heart a lot of the ideas from the community,” said GFCA member John Ulfelder. While the design was on public display at the Great Falls Library and during public meetings of the GFCA, no members of the six families objected to the design or to its evolution.

However, some members of the community felt that a more prominent recognition of the victims was fitting, given their influence in creating the memorial.

Three new features will be put in front of the Board of Supervisors. First, the walkway leading up to the berm style memorial will be named the Freedom Walk, and along the path there will be various stations describing the sacrifice members of the community have made toward ensuring freedom for all Americans. At the start of the path, there will be a plaque that acknowledges that the memorial was inspired by the candlelight vigil. And along the walk, where four trees had been planned, the number is increased to six, in honor of the six lives lost on Sept. 11.

“The intent of the committee is not to name these individuals, but to honor them as a whole,” said Linda Lammersen, legislative aide to Dranesville District supervisor Joan DuBois (R). The overarching theme of the memorial, said Lammersen, “is designed for those that have fought for the freedom we all enjoy.”

Next week several thousand letters will go out to the community detailing the design concept at this stage and giving residents the opportunity to contribute to the memorial. The Freedom Memorial is being funded through private donations and is under the auspices of the Old Brogue Charities, which has pledged to maintain the memorial in perpetuity.

“The purpose of the mailing is twofold,” said Lammersen. “To bring the community up to date and to offer the opportunity to participate.”

The memorial design will not be submitted to the Board of Supervisors until the funding goals have been reached. Residents will be given the opportunity to purchase the bricks on which approved inspirational words will be used along the walkway, and there are numerous levels of sponsorship that can be chosen.

“They can’t erect the monument until the funding is in place,” said Lammersen. According to Kearney, fund-raising “is a little more than halfway there right now.” If the fund-raising drive continues at this pace, some members of the group believe they can be ready to move forward in as little as three months.

The Board of Supervisors has the final say on approving the design concept. No additional public hearings need to be held, because the monument will be built adjacent to the public library and is therefore considered an ancillary use.

Members of the GFCA who turned out for the final design presentation expressed confidence in the design and the fact that community input had been factored in. “I like it. I think it’s something that’s going to look good there and something we can be proud of,” said GFCA member Calvin Follin.

Lammersen said that while the design has garnered approval to this point, there could still be additional changes to the design before it goes to the Board of Supervisors. For example, two additional words have been suggested for use at the memorial. Those words have not yet been approved. Lammersen said, “There could be slight modifications based on input from a variety of sources.”