Tragedy to Triumph
by Paul Kuhn

“Tragedy to Triumph” is the 45th work of art in the Naperville Century Walk. It was dedicated on April 26, 2014, to honor victims of a crash that shook a sleepy little town of less than 5000 people who came together to triumph in the face of tragedy. Discarded train parts and hundreds of railroad spikes were bent, melted and molded by lifelong Naperville resident Paul Kuhn to sculpt this powerful and inspiring creation memorializing this day in Naperville history. The sailor represents the 10 military personnel who were crash victims, three of whom were on their way home to announce their engagement to be married. The figure on the right is a Kroehler worker who symbolizes the many volunteers who responded to the cries for help. The injured woman being aided by the human crutch is the reminder that many people were injured and 45, ranging in age from 1 to 81, were killed in the crash. Actual train wheels and two plaques bookend the sculpture. Kuhn says that his focus was on showing how a caring community can come together and triumph over tragedy. Kuhn points out that this Memorial does not picture any dead. It pictures only the living. He says that the memorial is intended to reflect a message of hope, rather than despair, of triumph over tragedy. Most of all the memorial speaks to future generations of their responsibility to carry on the legacy of assistance and caring that was so spectacularly evident here on April 25th, 1946. A book entitled” The Tragedy at the Loomis Street Crossing”, written by Naperville native Chuck Spinner provided the impetus to the Century Walk to form a “train wreck committee” to develop plans for this Memorial. This sculpture was funded in part by a grant from the Public Museum Capital Grant Program, the city of Naperville Special Events and Cultural Amenities Fund and The Naperville Century Walk.

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