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Group wants to place 10,000-pound piece of World Trade Center at Lawrence Visitors Center


It is still pretty mysterious at the moment, but an effort is underway to make Lawrence the home of a remnant of the World Trade Center, whichfell as part of the 9/11 attacks.

The Lawrence-based American Fallen Warrior Memorial — more on that group and questions about it in a moment — has filed a request with City Hall to locate an approximately 10,000-pound piece of the World Trade Center in front of the Union Pacific Depot/Lawrence Visitors Center in North Lawrence.

Tonya Evans, the CEO and Founder of the American Fallen Warrior Memorial organization, declined to provide details about the project when I got in touch with her recently. Instead, she said there would be a significant announcement about it on Monday.

At one point, the group's Web site had some information about the art piece, which is being called the Star11 Anchor Artifact. But the web page was removed after I inquired to the city about the group's application to house the piece in Lawrence.

But if you know how to search the Web in certain ways, most web pages that are removed from a site aren't really removed from the eyes of Google.

The photo below is a screen shot from the removed Web page showing the Star11 artifact. What's unclear is whether that is in its finished form or simply in the process of being completed. The artist is Sandra Priest, and she's done at least one other piece of art from concrete saved from the World Trade Center site. It is a more polished and stylized version that is in Bethlehem, Pa.

According to information on the Web page, the Star11 piece comes from the World Trade Center's foundation. For those of you who understand construction, the piece is slurry wall concrete that was used to support the towers. According to the Fallen Warrior's Web page, the slurry wall "is the only piece of the trade center area that actually was left standing from the original site after 9/11."

Priest acquired the large blocks of concrete as they were being removed from the World Trade Center site to make way for the PATH subway hub in New York City.

As for its future in Lawrence, according to the information on file with the city, the Fallen Warrior Memorial group has an interest in displaying the artifact on the depot grounds for two to three years.

The more permanent plan is for the piece to be housed at a major Fallen Warrior Memorial that the group hopes to build in Kansas City, Kan. The memorial plans include a 130-foot-tall structure that would support a giant American flag. Also included are memorial walls to recognize fallen servicemen and women. The group's Facebook page has a good rendering of what it hopes the site will look like. When the site was announced last year, there was talk of a 2014 groundbreaking, but I'm not sure that is still an accurate timeline. There also was talk during last year's announcement that the memorial would be about a $30 million project. I'm also unsure about the status of any fundraising success the group has had.

Almost as interesting as the memorial, is the fact that the group trying to put all this together is based in Lawrence. The group was involved in a lawsuit with another Texas-based organization that also was planning to build some sort of fallen warrior memorial. That lawsuit has been settled. A Feb. 25, 2012 article in The Kansas City Star raises questions about the group's memorial plan and its feasibility. (Note: The link takes you to a third party site. We weren't able to find a way to link to the article on The Star's site, but did confirm that the article was written by the newspaper.)

It looks like the group would like the art piece to arrive in Lawrence in September, according to the group's Web site. According to the site, the piece will leave from Florida and make stops at several cities along the way.

The city's Cultural Arts Commission is scheduled to discuss the request at its Aug. 14 meeting.

The Star11 piece as shown on a previous page from the American Fallen Warriors Memorial Web site.

The Star11 piece as shown on a previous page from the American Fallen Warriors Memorial Web site. by Chad Lawhorn


LogicMan 4 years, 10 months ago

With all due respect and sympathy to the victims and their families, it is time to move on. Just say no to this proposal which has no significant historical connection to Lawrence. A piece is already on display at the Dole Institute.

Douglas Thompson 4 years, 10 months ago

It is history and a major event in American history. The group doesn't appear to be asking for anything other than the right to display the memorial. 9/11 may not have happened in Lawrence, but is had a strong connection to all Americans. What is the harm in displaying a piece of history as a memorial to those American's who died?

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

This individual and the group she created has a track record of attempting to raise money while providing little or no accountability. She has even tried to do that through schools, including Lawrence.

I suspect most of the money received by her foundation has made its way to her through salary or contract. I could be wrong, but she should be prepared to fully answer those questions.

Before she created her own organization, she had absolutely no background or experience in raising money or running a non-profit, other being associated with another group in Texas that wanted to create a multi-million dollar "fallen warrior memorial."

The Texas group was an inept organization too, but at least it had the good sense to file suit against her when their employee took their hair-brained scheme to Kansas in an attempt to replicate it. (The article notes that this lawsuit has been settled.)

The City of Lawrence was hit up by this organization once before, for a piece of land on I-70 for her "memorial." Other cities including Topeka, Emporia, Manhattan, Leavenworth, and KCK, were also approached. Most saw through the ruse. The group had no assets, and no experience.

Before any city, including Lawrence included, does any business with this person and her organization, there should be some healthy due-diligence done on the organizations structure, viability and finances, as well as hers. Having a PO box at a UPS store and a website is hardly a functioning ongogin organization (The organization, though having not-for-profit status, has never filed an annually required IRS 990 annual report, which indicates it is very small. And as I suggested earlier, may serve as the principal income source of the "executive director

I support our fallen warriors. But I despise others who make their income off of "honoring" them. If they want to honor them, 100% of their funds should go to assist the former warriors themselves, not some contrived "memorial."

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

Kudos to Chad for including the link to the KC Star article above. It does a much better job of explaining and fleshing out some of that facts of which I was aware. I highly recommend others read it.

And as I suspected, from the information in the article, I believe this whole scheme and organization is much more about providing an income to someone than it is honoring any veteran. It sounds like the lady has talked an artist out of a block of concrete, and now is stuck in trying to find a sucker of a city to park it.....while attempting to raise money and publicity at the same time.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

I will correct one of my statements above.

The organization did file a full-form IRS 990 for 2012. It is available on their website. I apologize for my erroneous statement otherwise. But the rest of my concerns regarding this organization and its officers remain.

peartree 4 years, 10 months ago

I want to second Boston_Corbett's suggestion to read the article that is linked in the story. Here is the direct link:


This woman and the out-of-state members of her "board" need to be investigated.

MarcoPogo 4 years, 10 months ago

This has "sketchy" written all over it. Just put it next to the giant flag pole by Perkins and we'll call it good...then eat some Turtle Pie.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 10 months ago

Maybe always there through the years, but this profiting from the agony of others seems to be more visible. Just read a bio on Ben Franklin, and was amazed he didn't copyright most of his inventions. Just wanted to help his fellow citizens.

I see far to often 7 figure salaries for non profit managers.

Hadley_says 4 years, 10 months ago


That thing is hideous. Why not ask NYC to throw in a piece of sewer pipe so we can dress it up a bit.

No wonder they pulled the photo off their web site. It would be an insult to veterans, Jim Brothers, the visitors center, and the city in general.

blindrabbit 4 years, 10 months ago

Stay away from this, but in the meantime with the goofy GOP rightwingnuts in control in Kansas, I'm surprised that somebody (Brownie) has not proposed one of those monstrosity crosses like those along I-40 Groom, Texas, I-70 Effingham, Illinois or the couple along I-35 in Iowa and Minnesota. We need another reason for fly-over highway travelers to realize what Kansas is all about, Dorothy is getting a little trite!

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago

As someone who was in NYC and saw 9/11 happen with my own eyes, not on TV, I would have to say this is ridiculous to insulting.

I don't think that the ruins should be some sort of shrine.

Putting it at the visitor's center? Do we want people visiting Lawrence to have 9/11 thrown in their face at the visiting center? Why?

Welcome to, Lawrence, Kansas... Remember 9/11? Here's a big chunk of it!!! Well, enjoy your stay in Lawrence and don't forget... 9/11.

Christopher Gartner 4 years, 10 months ago

The brave people lost in our Middle East wars deserve to be remembered and I hope a memorial to their memory gets built. However, I am not sure that Tonya Evans is the person to pull this off. I was involved with this "organization" for a year as its project manager but had to resign after continuing to be told things that were untrue, making suggestions to increase our accountability and openness that went ignored and hearing statements that proved time and time again that these folks didn't have a clue about what they were doing. What bothers me most is Tonya had told me she wouldn't take any money out of the Foundation for herself until it had reached $750,000 in donations. Someone, I don't know who, is now being paid $2,000/month with only $60,000 in the bank. This is not what I was promised would happen. For anyone that wants to see how much has been raised and where the dollars are going please go to: http://afwmf.org/financials. Unfortunately, these financial statements - originally identified by Tonya and her second in command Kat as AUDITED until I pointed out the accountant's large note saying they were not! - are very generic and do not detail who the payees are. Check out the travel expenses as well over time. I'm guessing that the 2nd Quarter financial statement when it is posted will show that the Foundation spent money just as fast as it came in. Little if anything has been set aside as untouchable for the purchase of concrete and steel.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

cgartner above just confirmed everything I suspicioned and more. And as he points out, what limited financial information is provided is totally unaudited.

That is the problem with these kind of organizations, as in, it is not. It is one person and her childhood friend. It is really not a functioning board which has actual meetings and takes minutes and seeks transparency. It is ONE person! And in this case a single mother of three, recently bankrupt, with no practical experience in such an endeavor of raising $30 million dollars. Just connect the dots.

As the KC Star article noted, her PR and statements are "bombastic" are full of mis-truths and not grounded in reality.

smileydog 4 years, 10 months ago

I'll withhold judgment until I see the final piece of art. Though I must add, in my opinion, even if it is finished, it looks better than the giant log that had a steel bar jammed through it that was displayed downtown a few years ago. Of course, that too was called "art" and considered good art by our local artists hierarchy since they picked it for display.

9/11 was a pivotal point in US History, as it has allowed our current government leaders to seize our freedoms in an unprecedented way and the scary thing is - nobody seems to care.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 10 months ago

I believe that a "perp" should never be given recognition...unless it points to our corruption and leads to, at least, the beginning of some end to such disruption.

9/11 was a brilliant destruction. It created a grand opportunity for thieves. It robbed us of humanity. It robbed us of freedom. It robbed us of belief. It made a substantial number of our populace quail in fear and accept the predictable governmental response of stealing more of our lives.

It gave us platitudes. It gave us war. It gave us disbelief and the need of desperate belief. It further disabled our demands for knowledge...which may now never be forthcoming. It created or effectively designed rifts, grifters, ifs, and or buttresses of disinformation.

We are now more enslaved by that horrific event than by reason.

DITCH IT...and closely watch the masters who paint our world and hang their vision in our parlors, and our burning house.

John Kyle 4 years, 10 months ago

Add this to the sandrat sculpture and North Lawrence will be the Mecca of crappy "art".

jj14 4 years, 10 months ago

My thoughts exactly. 1 word.... WHY?

riverdrifter 4 years, 10 months ago

Looks like a suitable piece of rip-rap on the river levee.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

an approximately 10,000-pound piece of the World Trade Center in front of the Union Pacific Depot/Lawrence Visitors Center in North Lawrence.

Tonya Evans, the CEO and Founder of the American Fallen Warrior Memorial organization, declined to provide details about the project when I got in touch with her recently. Instead, she said there would be a significant announcement about it on Monday.

---place this 5-ton thingy in Lawrence, ... in front of our visitors' center?
why lawrence indeed? and, why at the visitors' center?

if it must be in Lawrence, then instead try down the street in the parking lot of Allstar's, given the use/abuse of $s.

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't understand the push-back on this. It's a reminder of a seminal day in American history. It needs a temporary home. Why not Lawrence?

bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

L275, I'll explain my pushback. maybe it'll be representative.

this has the feel of Lawrence just being used. and, while I can understand some memorials and iconic images coming from that day's horrible attack. one example of a good image is that spontaneously occurring cross that has captured so much interest. but this is removed from the event in a couple of key ways.

add to that the dubious tracings of this organization.

finally, I personally think such a 5-ton thingamabob would detract and distract from our visitors' center and its own history as well as the phoenix-like history of our own community.

also, why is KCK the eventual "perminent" home for this vaporware monument? KCK? no more connection than Lawrence.

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't know anything about the dubious organization, but I understand not wanting to sidetrack people at the visitor center away from Lawrence's part in the fight against slavery and the violence suffered as a consequence. I can see how ot would be out of place there, and maybe there is a better-suited location.

I flew into Newark, and then took the bus to Manhattan. The bus stopped at the WTC and the first thing I did was walk up and touch the building and look up. It was like the building was not just beside me, but leaning over me. That made me smile. I'm dumb that way. Now it's gone, and millions of people will never really know what was standing there.

It's almost like on that morning the people flying the planes tried to take the WTC from me. Having parts of it dispersed around America replies to people that do this sort of thing that they might be able to destroy what we have, but they cannot take it.

I'll defer to you long-time residents. This is your town and I'm just an interloper.

Jean Robart 4 years, 10 months ago

Agreed---and why does she want to place it in Lawrence, albeit temporarily? Why not get it to KC, and let them worry about raising money. I don't think that this piece of-whatever it is-should be on exhibit for everyone who goes to the visitor center to see.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

If we want to pay tribute to fallen warriors how about the USA cut off spending to the never ending war that never stops killing "our warriors" aka innocent victims of an undeclared war for no reason.

Saddam Hussein and the other guy are dead. Neither had any use for each other but they are dead.

I suppose this American Fallen Warrior Memorial organization is one more that has received tax exempt status and may well be funneling money into the right wing Brownback/ALEC campaign cookie jars. Instead of honoring our dead soldiers they are instead using our dead soldiers for political gain.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

"I suppose this American Fallen Warrior Memorial organization is one more that has received tax exempt status and may well be funneling money into the right wing Brownback/ALEC campaign cookie jars. Instead of honoring our dead soldiers they are instead using our dead soldiers for political gain."

---naw, he's not paranoid, no, not one little bit! lol!!! (RE Brownback/ALEC)

bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

okay ... was there a big announcement today???????

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