On Friday afternoon, the 8-4 Memorial Committee announced that it has selected four local artists to collaborate on a permanent memorial honoring the people killed on that terrible day.
Welker, Sierra Leone, Jes McMillan and James Pate will work on a memorial that has been named “The Seed of Life” that will be installed in a public plaza near the eastern end of East Fifth Street in the Oregon District, which was the site of one of worst mass killings in Ohio’s history.
The memorial, which will be located by Trolley Stop tavern, is expected to include sculptures of nine steel petals to represent the nine victims: Lois Oglesby, Saeed Saleh, Derrick Fudge, Nicholas Cumer, Logan Turner, Thomas McNichols, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, Monica Brickhouse and Megan Betts.
Brick and concrete ground in the plaza will be replaced with a colorful new mosaic, and the project will add plantings and seating. Meaningful words and phrases will be imprinted on the benches and the mosaic that come from poems that will be written about the victims, first-responders and survivors.
The team is expected to finish the memorial by Aug. 4, 2024, which will be the five-year anniversary of the tragedy.
Community members are going to have an opportunity to “put their hands on this project,” which will require re-creating the entire plaza to make it a quiet place of reflection, Welker said.
“We are place-makers and peace-makers,” he said. “In order to create a place of peace and healing, we have to first heal this place.”
Sandy Gudorf, memorial co-chair, said figuring out what the memorial should look like and include was the culmination years of work. She said hundreds of community members provided input about the project.
Community members made it clear that they wanted the memorial space to be a place of reflection and healing, she said.
“It should be a gathering place for our community to come together,” she said. “It should be inspirational for our community and also it should be a celebration of life.”
The tragic event of Aug. 4, 2019, is a story that needs to be told, said LaSandra James, a member of the memorial committee and the mother of Oglesby, who was 27 when she was killed, leaving behind two young children.
“For me this process was not easy at all, but it was necessary,” she said. “I realize this memorial reminds us of a tragedy, but it also should remind us to celebrate the lives that were lost — the lives of the nine and the survivors who have made the most to move past all of the pain they experienced.”