Unity Park dedication will honor storm victims and spirit of togetherness - News Release | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee

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Unity Park dedication will honor storm victims and spirit of togetherness

JACKSON, Tenn.Oct. 17, 2001 – An architectural sculpture two years in the making stands as the centerpiece of Unity Park, which will be dedicated at noon Wednesday, Oct. 24 in memory of the community’s response to the devastating tornadoes of January 1999.

Union University art professors Lee Benson and Chris Nadaskay conceived and designed the centerpiece sculpture that appears in Jackson's Unity Park.

Union University art professors Lee Benson and Chris Nadaskay conceived and designed the centerpiece sculpture that appears in Jackson's Unity Park.

Six people lost their lives in the Jan. 17 storms, which left millions of dollars in damage in parts of Jackson, Madison County and West Tennessee. Within minutes after the twisters struck, public safety personnel and citizen volunteers were at the storm sites, helping to rescue the injured. Many who had lost their own homes came out to help others.

The towering sculpture, conceived and designed by Union University art professors Lee Benson and Chris Nadaskay, is the focal point of Unity Park. Sixty feet in diameter and 22 feet tall, it is believed to be the largest piece of public sculpture in the state. Its design incorporates free-falling water, six columns representing the six who died and a seventh column that stands for the unified spirit the community displayed during aftermath and recovery. Randomly placed stone spheres represent each location in the area where the tornadoes touched down.

The sculpture is at the center of a small triangle of city-owned property just north of the Carl Perkins Civic Center. A vast amount of the material and labor used to build the monument were donated, and additional money was obtained through a variety of fundraisers.

Benson, one of the artists responsible for the Unity Park sculpture, recalled the impact the events of that January had upon him.

“We had never witnessed anything quite like it,” he said. “It was a great leveling field in the city. There were no separating distinctions between races, religious denominations, rich or poor, educated or less educated; there were only two categories, those who needed help and those who could provide help. Everywhere we went, there was an outpouring of goodwill and assistance that overwhelmed and amazed us.”

The brief dedication ceremony will feature remarks from Mayor Charles Farmer, Union University President Dr. David Dockery, Public Works Director Jerry Gist and others. Musical selections will be presented by the group “Proclamation” from Union University. The artists will be introduced. A plaque will be unveiled listing the names of all the donors to the park project, and framed photographs of the memorial sculpture will be presented to family members of the storm victims.

Unity Park
Photo Illustration of Unity Park


Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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