Forward, Together Forward

Cole Memorial copy

I went back to Northern Illinois University this weekend for Homecoming. My first as an alum.

It also happened to be the first weekend the memorial honoring those who lost their lives in the Feb. 14 shooting was fully erected, so me and Jen paid a visit Sunday afternoon.

There are five marble wall-like structures with the names of the five victims and a sculpture. The walls also bear the words “Forward, Together Forward” on them, one word on each wall.

I took some basic shots, wasn’t looking for anything too fancy. Just something to show the memorial as a whole, with Cole Hall (the shooting site) in the background and a close up of the walls.

As we were walking away a man and his wife were sitting on a bench outside Cole Hall by the memorial. The man asked me how I like the sculpture and I expressed how I loved it. Very fitting tribute.

Turns out he was Bruce Niemi, a 1981 graduate of NIU, and the sculptor.

The name of the piece is “Remembered” and it represents the spirits of the five victims rising up like a flame of a candle (candles are used in most vigils and memorials).

Niemi said it took him about three months to complete it.

We talked awhile about other parts of our lives but he also told how he met the father of one of the victims, Dan Parmenter, at the Wisconsin football game and what that experience was like.

I can’t imagine the nerves Niemi might have had the day this was erected.

Certainly was a nice surprise meeting the artist and hear his inspiration. That was a day that has certainly changed my life and made me realize the most important things in it.

I’ll admit, seeing the memorial was emotional. I fought back a few tears. I think it’s a great tribute and beautiful memorial. Great job, Bruce.

“Forward, Together Forward”

© 2009 Jerry Burnes

Check out more of Bruce’s work here.


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