Town gets 9/11 memorial the state didn’t want

Drew Mikkelsen, KING 5 News 

A September 11 memorial designed for the state Capitol became suddenly homeless when the state said it didn’t want it. But now a Central Washington town is gaining from Olympia’s loss. It’s been almost a 15-year journey and John Jackson’s down to the finishing touches.

"Spirit of America' statue (Photo: KING)

“Spirit of America’ statue (Photo: KING)

“Pretty emotional for me… to be an American and to be able to do something like this… it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.

Days after September 11, 2001, Jackson decided to create a memorial like no other.

“You have a firefighter, an office worker, a military officer and an airline stewardess,” he said.

The Spirit of America Memorial includes pieces of the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Organizers raised nearly $200,000 to build it, with the intent on placing it at the Capitol in Olympia, but in 2013 the state said no way.

“They felt like it was something that happened on the East Coast, that kind of mentality is just unacceptable to me,” said Jackson.

Two years later, volunteers are building the homeless 9/11 memorial a new home more than 100 miles east of Olympia in Cashmere, a small but passionate town.

“It didn’t take long to realize this community has a very strong spirit and patriotic values,” said Tom Green.

After seeing the memorial during a tour of the state, Green headed up the effort to bring it to Cashmere.

“The 1,100-pound piece of steel from one of the columns of the World Trade Center will be standing on that,” he said.

They’re expanding the town’s war memorial along the Wenatchee River into a place where visitors can share memories of 9/11 and let future generations experience the impact of that day.

“No other site has the statues and the opportunity to stand with solidarity with people who represent those that were lost,” said Green.

“This thing has had a life of its own from the beginning,” said Jackson, who is now designing the steel that will surround the memorial. “For me it’s very, very emotional to see this thing come to an end,” he said.

Built for the Capitol, the founder can’t imagine it anywhere BUT Cashmere.

“After seeing this all unfold I realized that this memorial picked its own home, that’s where it wants to be, I don’t think it could be in a better place in Washington to tell you the truth,” said Jackson.

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