Carpentersville wins state awards for patriotic projects
Carpentersville has secured not one, but two Governor's Hometown Awards for a pair of events related to the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The village was recognized for volunteer efforts surrounding its Healing Field display of 2,976 flags in Carpenter Park — one for every person killed on Sept. 11, 2001 — and for a memorial that honors local firefighters and those killed in the terrorist attacks.
The memorial was dedicated last year on the 10th anniversary of the attacks and the flags were on display from Sept. 6 through Sept. 11.
Carpentersville has never won a Governor's Hometown Award, and to win two in a single year is a major accomplishment, Village President Ed Ritter said.
"It's a statement about the direction that Carpentersville is taking," Ritter said. "We're doing everything possible to make this a town that people are proud of and that they want to come and live in. This award is just a representative of the good things that are happening here."
Both projects relied heavily on volunteers and donations.
Jerry Christopherson, chairman of True Patriots Care Foundation, the group that organized the Healing Field, used hundreds of volunteers to plant the flags and maintain them for five days.
The group also raised $55,000 for the project and was able to donate $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Dundee in Carpentersville.
"We should never forget," Christopherson, a U.S. Army veteran, said of the terrorist attacks. "We've remembered Pearl Harbor for 70 years. I think we should always remember what happened on 9/11 also."
The fire department used volunteers and raised more than $15,000 to create the memorial at Fire Station No.1 on Spring Street. It features a flagpole, a stone monument with a brass fire helmet and a piece of metal from the World Trade Center.
Fire Chief John Schuldt said the awards would not have been possible without the volunteers.
"It's phenomenal that when you need something, people step up," said Schuldt, who has lived in town for 42 years. "This is for every resident and every visitor of Carpentersville, because those two things that went on in 2011 are for them."
The state award, given annually since 1983, honors volunteers who are doing their part to make Illinois a better place to live. The village won the hometown awards in the memorials and monuments category and both projects competed against each other.
The state will formally recognize Carpentersville at a reception scheduled for Nov. 29 at the Governor's Mansion in Springfield. It is there that village officials will receive street signs that herald the honors. Ritter said the signs will be posted at the town's entrances.
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