In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Richard Porterfield got to know the families of the eight Naval Intelligence personnel who served with him who were killed in the Pentagon attack. And he made them all a promise.
Ten years later, Porterfield, since retired, and his wife, Jody, are still honoring that promise.
If you goWhat: Naperville Sept. 11 remembrance
When: 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11
Where: Sept. 11/Cmdr. Dan Shanower Memorial, on the Riverwalk behind the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.
"We made a pledge to the families of each of our 'Great Eight' that we would always be there for them, in any way, to help them overcome the grief and sting of losing their loved one," Porterfield said.
"While I knew their sons and daughters through our professional relationships in the Pentagon, I had never met any of the family members until we were joined together at memorial services, funerals and burials. I participated in the burial of Cmdr. Dan Shanower at Arlington National Cemetery, and either I or my deputy director, Ms. Tish Long, participated in every ceremony honoring our fallen heroes."
The Porterfields continue to visit Arlington National Cemetery on the 11th of each month, and have done so since 2001, to say a private prayer in Section 64, where many who lost their lives on Sept. 11 are buried. Shanower is buried alongside many others who were killed in the attack, and adjacent a large black stone memorial that lists the names of all those killed in the Pentagon.
Porterfield will honor them all once again at 1 p.m. Sunday in Naperville at the Sept. 11/Cmdr. Dan Shanower Memorial, located behind the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.
Porterfield, who also attended the 2003 dedication of the memorial, will serve as keynote speaker at Sunday's remembrance ceremony, sponsored by the Naperville Exchange Club.
"I got to visit the Shanowers in their Naperville home and realized the anguish they continued to experience over the loss of Dan. I also more fully understood the pride in Dan's selfless service to our nation as a naval officer," Porterfield said.
"Dan died doing what he loved the most; leading young intelligence professionals during a period of crisis."
Shanower was charged with carrying out Porterfield's orders to senior Navy officials to ensure they were advised of significant worldwide events and threats. Shanower and his team were on duty when the airplane destroyed a large part of the Pentagon that included the offices of his team.
"We are coming to Naperville to keep faith with our promise to the Shanower family, and to ensure the citizens of Naperville never forget that one of their own sons was such a remarkable young man who died in the line of duty, and died much too young," Porterfield said.
"Had Dan lived, he would have reached the point in his career where he was eligible for selection to admiral. I have no doubt Dan Shanower would have been very competitive with his peers for selection to flag officer."
As part of Sunday's Sept. 11 remembrance, the Naperville Exchange Club also will host a flag-raising ceremony along Jackson Avenue.
From Thursday through Saturday, two World War II search lights also will be placed behind the municipal center with their beams of light meant to represent the World Trade Center's towers that fell during the attacks. The lights will be on display each of the three days from dusk until 11 p.m.