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updated: 9/6/2011 11:41 AM

West Chicago Sept. 11 observance honors past, future

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  • The bronze sculpture in Reed-Keppler Park brings together the elements of patriotism, hope, vision for the future and joy. It will be dedicated as part of West Chicago's Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony.

      The bronze sculpture in Reed-Keppler Park brings together the elements of patriotism, hope, vision for the future and joy. It will be dedicated as part of West Chicago's Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony.
    Courtesy of the City of West Chicago

 
 

Church bells will toll throughout West Chicago at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, to signal the start of a communitywide observance of the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

"Remembering 9/11: A West Chicago Observance" will be at Reed-Keppler Park, 129 W. National St.

Mayor Mike Kwasman will lead the formal program of tribute to "the heroes of 9/11" -- the first responders who risked their lives, the victims who perished and the men and women who serve our country in the military.

West Chicago Park District Director Gary Major will dedicate the bronze memorial sculpture at the corner of Main and Freemont streets.

The sculpture, purchased by the Friends of West Chicago Parks Foundation, depicts two children, with one raising an American flag.

The concept is to merge the elements of patriotism, hope, vision for the future and joy, Major said.

Major also will announce the recipient of the city's 2011 Home Town Hero Award, honoring a citizen who "represents the character, the heart and soul of the community."

The committee planning the city's Sept. 11 observance asked residents to write short essays reflecting on their personal experiences or reactions as the events unfolded 10 years ago.

Those who shared their experiences include:

• A former executive who was supposed to be in New York working at her company's headquarters on the 92nd floor of the North Tower. After Sept. 11, she left the corporate world and is now a counselor in West Chicago.

"We drove through the night (from Chicago) so we could get there and be with our grieving employees and surviving family members first thing in the morning. There was heartbreak everywhere we looked."

• The then-president of West Chicago Sister Cities, who was slated to fly home on Sept. 11 after attending a peace conference in Germany.

"The cabbie who drove me to Heathrow on the 15th did not want to let go of my handshake. He had tears rolling down his face and his voice was broken. His comment was, 'You Yanks, you Americans, have done so much for us, and in your moment of need, we stand by helplessly.' His grief was genuine."

• A pastor who was attending a religious retreat and watched the coverage on a small black-and-white television with someone holding the antenna to improve the picture.

"We sang some hymns, read scripture, prayed, cried and went home, all overwhelmed by what we just witnessed."

During the observance, selected essays will be read by members of the West Chicago Police Department and West Chicago Fire Protection District and veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, Afghanistan and Army's 82nd Airborne Division, while photos of the events in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania are shown. Letters from West Chicago schoolchildren to soldiers also will be read.

The tribute will include patriotic musical performances by various community groups, a five-bells ceremony by the fire protection district, and the lighting of mini commemorative flashlights, provided by the Ladies Auxiliary.

A flag of honor, listing the names of all who perished in the terrorist attacks, will be on display.

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