Skywalk monument would symbolize the 114 who lost their lives - KCTV5 News

Skywalk monument would symbolize the 114 who lost their lives

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

It's a memory Frank Freeman lives with every single day.

A nightmare that won't go away. He lost his partner and hurt his back on the night of July 17, 1981, when the Skywalk fell.

He's still healing from the pain of that night.

"That those 114 people, to me, should not have died in vain. They should be remembered," Freeman said.

For years, Freeman felt there needed to be a memorial. Then five years ago, at the 25th Skywalk reunion, he had a revelation.

"I had been complaining that nothing had been done and somebody said to me, well, why don't you do something about it," said Freeman.

So he did.

He marched outside the Hyatt with a sign demanding a memorial. People began to notice. And soon, this grass-roots effort caught the attention of other survivors and their families.

"After we had told each other our stories, our experience about all this, we felt strongly this was an important thing to do," said Brent Wright with the Skywalk Memorial Foundation.

Brent's mother and stepfather died that night at the Hyatt. They had only been married for two weeks.

Brent is now an attorney, and his office overlooks the Hyatt. He helped form the Skywalk Memorial Foundation, and he says at first they received mixed reaction.

"I won't tell you there weren't some who still think it's still too painful to deal with, and I respect that, we all do," said Wright.

On the whole, the response we got was overwhelmingly positive.

Skywalk Monument supporters initially wanted to build their monument at Washington Square Park, but they soon realized that a group of Korean War veterans had designs of their own to build a memorial at that location.

So they decided to move the monument three blocks away to a piece of land at Hospital Hill Park in front of Children's Mercy Hospital, in the shadow of the Hyatt.

Artist Lorie Doolittle-Bowman designed the memorial, a plaza illuminated by pinpoints of light moving outward in circles.

The light symbolizes the 114 who lost their lives, followed by those injured, the rescuers and the ripple effect the tragedy has had on the community. The Memorial will include a seating area surrounded by landscape and a centerpiece sculpture that 'lifts' the Memorial from the ground to street view.

The cost for this memorial is $800,000 dollars, but so far, the foundation has collected a little more than $350,000 dollars. 

The foundation's goal is to have the memorial built and dedicated by July 2012.

To donate money to the memorial, click here.

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