Nick Simonson brought his 7-year-old son to the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue open house on Sunday because he wanted the boy to touch a piece of history.
Rescue Unit 4, a Fire Department of New York vehicle that was used in the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, sat all day Sunday in front of the fire station on Route 64 in Wasco.
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"He wasn't even born, obviously, when 9/11 happened," said Simonson, a St. Charles resident. "I thought this would be a good way to tell him about the sacrifices that firefighters made that day, without overwhelming him."
The Remembrance Rescue Project, a not-for-profit organization started by area firefighters, brought the vehicle to the Wasco station. The group is using Rescue Unit 4 as an educational tool and a memorial to the eight firefighters who were aboard the rig when it responded to the attacks in 2001. All eight lost their lives.
"This was strictly a search and rescue unit, basically a big toolbox," said Fox River & Countryside fire Capt. Scott Vaughn, who also serves on the board of the RRP. "The people who rode on this were the absolute elite, and when they got to those towers, they went right in."
In addition to being a "traveling memorial," Rescue Unit 4 helps anchor the RRP's fundraising efforts, Vaughn said. On Sunday, RRP sold T-shirts and other items on site. The group also accepted straight donations. The money will be used to support children of fallen firefighters.
"We're trying to remind people of the inherent dangers involved in firefighting," he said.
Rescue Unit 4, which was acquired at auction, has made several previous appearances in the Chicago area, including one at a recent Northwestern University football game. Vaughn said he plans to bring the truck to other fire department open houses in the next couple of weeks.
"The feeling I get when I go inside that rig and drive it -- well, it's very humbling," he said.
For more information about Remembrance Rescue Project, go to therrp.org.
Sunday's open house also included a pancake breakfast, fire prevention demonstrations and a visit from a medical helicopter.