Group breaks ground for 9/11 Memorial in Venice

(From left) David Fouche, president, J2 Solutions, general contractors; E.F. ‘Gene’ Sweeney, president/CEO, Salt of the Earth USA; Mark Pritchett, senior vice president for community investment, Gulf Coast Community Foundation; Lou Marinaccio, president/CEO, MGA-Insurance Group; David Pierce, Venice Chamber of Commerce; Kit McKeon, vice mayor of Venice; and Tim Larson, vice president and project manager, Salt of the Earth. Photos by Norman Schimmel

The intermittent downpours on Monday, July 16, did not prove a deterrent to members of Salt of the Earth USA and officials of the City of Venice as they broke ground for a 9/11 Memorial at Patriots Park.

Following remarks by several guest speakers, attendees watched the golden shovels slide into the ground softened by all that rain.

The memorial will feature a beam from Tower One of the World Trade Center that Salt of the Earth already has had delivered to Venice.

Plans call for the memorial to be dedicated on Sept. 11, the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The ceremony tentatively has been scheduled from 10 a.m. until noon that day.

Attendees gather at Patriots Park for remarks before the groundbreaking.

Salt of the Earth President and CEO E.F. “Gene” Sweeney says he wants to make sure Sarasota is known forever for its role in the events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2011. Not only did then-President George W. Bush learn of the terrorist attacks while he was participating in a program at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, but the terrorists who flew the planes that day trained at the Venice Airport.

Sweeney also points out that the 9/11 Memorial is being built with private contributions, not taxpayer funds. For more information, people may visit or call Sweeney at 941-388-8063.

Patriots Park under sunny skies.