Learn more about this Sculpture
In 2019, I had the idea to place an underwater 9/11 memorial. Mike Campbell, Marine Project Manager of Lee County, Florida and Matt Johnson of the IMAG History and Science Museum in Fort Myers, Florida, https://theimag.org/exhibits/ connected me to Joe Weatherby, president of Artificial Reefs International http://www.arireefs.com. Joe with the help of many others helped sink as an artificial reef, The Hoyt S. Vandenberg Ship in 2009, after years of cleanup and permissions. This is currently the 2nd largest artificial reef in the world. Once Joe and I started working together, he asked if I would consider placing the BLUE FREEDOM memorial sculptures on the deck of the Vandenberg. I agreed and then Joe commandeered Bob Holston to help with the underwater memorial. Bob, residing in Key West, is a major advocate of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, owned a dive shop in the Keys for over 45 years, and currently contracted with branches of the United States Military for diving instruction. Joe and Bob worked with rallying the City, Military, Police, Firemen, and Government officials, including the Marine Sanctuary. They received the permissions needed and I am grateful for their huge efforts. I am showing here, the underwater phase one of this 9/11 Memorial as two pieces of the concrete slurry wall that once surrounded the World Trade Center. By the end of 2121, the large 8-ton sculpture will join these two pieces already underwater on the deck of the Vandenberg.
Bob Holston then introduced me to retired army Master Diver and Commander of the Key West VFW, Chris Green. Chris and his associates were the ones to take the first two pieces down on the deck of the ship on September 6, 2021. It was a momentous occasion for it marked the first time a 9/11 memorial made out of actual salvaged pieces from the World Trade Center, was placed as an underwater 9/11 memorial. I transported these two pieces from my art studio in Saint James City, Florida after driving to meet with Chris on September 2, 2021. 4 days later he made history when they were secured on the deck of the Vandenberg. Chris will also be in charge of the deployment of the large 8-ton final phase of the BLUE FREEDOM 9/11 Memorial. He and Bob Holston will secure a barge/ship that will be massive enough to take on this feat of size, weight, and honor.
This is a historical placement for sure. We as human beings are many times attracted to the amazing wonders of the world. Not everyone will be able to dive this site, but we will all be impressed at the photos and videos that will come out of this, to show us all the beauty of BLUE FREEDOMS resting place. We had a dedication dive out at the Vandenberg on September 11, 2021, for the 20th year anniversary of 9/11.
There were many boats on hand for this event. A 45-foot flag donated by the city of Morris, Illinois was part of the ceremonial dive. It was brought down by Scott M. Belt, Associate Circuit Judge of the Grundy County Courthouse of Illinois. This flag was taken down underwater and attached to the ship. As it was unfurled, it is now flying in the current above the BLUE FREEDOM Memorial. As the current moves over the ship, the flag will gently release its stars and stripes as it is flown above the BLUE FREEDOM 9/11 Memorial in honor of the 20th anniversary. It will remain underwater as long as it stays intact.
**ALL PHOTO CREDITS ON THIS PAGE GO TO SANDRA PRIEST, CHRIS GREEN, AND SCOTT BELT.