By Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
We are often told we must never forget the veterans who fought and died for our country.
The same could be said for the innocent young people taken from our midst — the victims of kidnapping and murder.
The Evansdale Chamber of Commerce has asked the City Council to declare July 13 of each year “Elizabeth and Lyric Day” in honor of young cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins, whose bodies were found earlier this month after they had been missing since July 13.
Additionally, a host of possible permanent memorials was discussed at a recent Evansdale City Council meeting, with no decisions reached. The city’s parks and recreation board, which would have final say over any park initiatives, meets Jan. 7.
Suggestions included placing a monument at Meyers Lake as a memorial to the girls and renaming the recreational trail around the lake in their honor.
The missing girls’ bikes were found on the lakeside trail — the last trace of them before hunters found their bodies in a Bremer County wildlife area Dec. 5. Several vigils have been held at the lake to remember the girls.
The push for a memorial began almost immediately after the girls’ bodies were discovered. Employees of several local Casey’s General Stores, where Lyric’s mother, Misty Morrissey, works have raised $3,500 to install a memorial bench to the girls at the lake.
The city of Waterloo put up a similar memorial to another murdered young person, Donnisha Hill, at Furgerson-Fields Park in 2011. Hill was abducted and murdered in 2006.
Another suggestion was a splash park, similar to Mark’s Park near the Riverfront Amphitheater in downtown Waterloo. That space is named after Mark Young, the son of Rick and Cathy Young who died in a March 2003 motorcycle accident.
The splash park idea was a favorite of Drew and Heather Collins, Elizabeth’s parents. “We basically spent our summers at Lost Island. They (Elizabeth and Lyric) loved going there,” Heather Collins said.
A memorial fund has been set up. People can donate to the Meyers Lake Cousin Memorial Fund account at First Security State Bank in Evansdale and Cedar Falls. A fundraising goal hasn’t been set since projects are yet to be determined.
“We want to keep their memory alive since they made such a huge impact on the community. We don’t want their precious lives to be in vain,” Evansdale chamber president Dona Frickson said.
All the suggestions are good. The number of ideas and broad community support reflect the love many feel for the girls and their families. If a single memorial can be agreed upon — like a splash park — it may give focus to volunteer and fundraising efforts and serve as a springboard for additional grants to be sought from local philanthropic organizations.
A memorial that reflects the spirit with which these girls lived their lives is altogether fitting. As Frickson suggested, if the memory of these and other little angels we have similarly lost from this Earth can prevent the life of another one from being taken from us, then their lives will have even more meaning.