CROWN POINT — Friends and family of first responders will now have a new memorial site to visit thanks to First United Methodist Church of Crown Point.
Currently, the church has a boulder to honor 9/11 victims in its side yard at the intersection of Main and South streets.
Now, the church is looking to replace that boulder with two granite obelisks — one to honor first responders and another to honor 9/11 victims.
“As sort of our gift to the community, we as a congregation are establishing a community first responders memorial in the yard of the church,” said Pastor Mark Wilkins.
The new memorial will honor all first responders, whether they’re fire, police or EMS — anyone who has lost their life in the line of duty, Wilkins said.
The church will host an unveiling and dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. Sept. 22. The ceremony will kick off in First United’s sanctuary, where Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy will speak.
McCarthy, who has been with the Orland Park Police Department for more than 20 years, is known for saving former President Ronald Reagan from an assassination attempt in the 1980s.
“His heroism and selfless dedication on that day, and in the career that followed, are an epitome of what being a first responder is all about,” the church said about McCarthy in a news release.
The original 9/11 memorial was dedicated eight years ago, and thanks to funding from congregation members, it will get a facelift.
“As a community, we have a heart for this. I will admit I have a vested interest because I am the Crown Point police chaplain,” Wilkins said. “As a community, we're surrounded every day by this invisible shield of protection both from fire, EMS, police, that we just don't think about. Specifically, sadly, we don't think about the toll that it takes.”
According to the release, the first responders memorial is the first of its kind in Lake County.
Wilkins said the memorials have a dual purpose: to show appreciation for current first responders and to pay homage to all first responders who “have given their life for our protection.”