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Towering tributes

Emotional work at ground zero inspired roadside 9/11 memorial

Sep. 11, 2013
 
Linda Schultz, who was a Red Cross volunteer working near ground zero in New York, dedicates a memorial to the tragedy in front of her Sevastopol home along Wisconsin 57 each year.
Linda Schultz, who was a Red Cross volunteer working near ground zero in New York, dedicates a memorial to the tragedy in front of her Sevastopol home along Wisconsin 57 each year. / Photos by Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate
So moved by the efforts of rescue dogs while volunteering after 9/11 in New York, Linda Schultz obtained a rescue dog she proudly named Freedom.
Linda Schultz of Sevastopol was given a hard hat with signatures of fellow rescue workers as a memento for the time spent near ground zero. / Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate
A keepsake was given to rescue workers.

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Since 2002 a Sevastopol woman has erected a roadside monument along Wisconsin 57 to honor those lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the people who serve the U.S. domestically and abroad.

Linda Schultz went to New York City as a Red Cross of America volunteer just days after terrorists crashed commercial airplanes in Washington, D.C., New York and Pennsylvania. Schultz, along with 60 or 70 other volunteers, were stationed within a half-mile of ground zero in New York City. Besides being a Red Cross volunteer for more than 15 years, she is also a first responder for Sevastopol.

Even now, 12 years later, Schultz’s voice still trembles talking about her experiences.

When the Red Cross volunteers flew over the city, the pilot pointed out the destruction below, she said Tuesday.

“You still didn’t believe it, you know. Everything burning, all the rubble, the smoke and everything,” she said.

Two days into Schultz’s three-week stay ,she visited ground zero with other volunteers.

What she remembers the most is the soot, the smell of melting plastic and the photos of the missing.

“Everywhere you went” people were posting photos, she said.

While deployed Schultz worked the night shift, making sure emergency personnel who came in could get something to eat and have someone to talk to.

“I think that’s a better time to talk to people — at night,” she said.

She still receives cards from some of the people who came to the Red Cross station.

Schultz also attended funerals for several firefighters.

“They were so emotional,” she said.

The roadside memorial started in 2002 with a model of the silver twin towers. Over the years the monument has grown from representing just 9/11 to encompassing all of those who serve, including members of the military, public servants and emergency personnel.

Schutlz sees the act of designing and setting up the memorial as a form of therapy. She created the cutouts of the firefighters, built the towers and collected the items that make up the roadside memorial.

This year she added a pair of gold boots, a helmet and a toy gun to represent the military. Schultz plans to add police officers to her growing cenotaph next year. The memorial stays up for about three weeks.

Schultz said she was a patriotic person before 9/11 because her parents raised her to respect the flag and her husband, Randy, is a Vietnam veteran.

She hopes to go back to New York someday.

“I want to see the memorial now that’s it’s finished,” Schultz said.

Her home is filled with reminders of 9/11. Her 12-year-old collie mix is named Freedom, the family business is called 911 Lawn Care and Tree Cutting Services, and her living room has many patriotic mementos and pieces of art.

A curio cabinet filled with 9/11 memorabilia, includes a white Red Cross hard hat signed by many of those working at ground zero.

Amongst the signatures are the letters “TKTF.”

It means “Take care, true friend,” Schultz said.

Contact Samantha Hernandez at svhernande@doorcountyadvocate.com or (920) 743-3321, Ext. 112.

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