Naperville Sept. 11 ceremony aims to honor and educate

The importance of education rises each fall when Sept. 11 rolls around.

Each year, another group of students is old enough to grasp some concept of the national pain the terrorist attacks caused when they killed nearly 3,000 people that fateful day. But each year, that new group of children is not old enough to have lived any version of the experience.

Education is a driving purpose behind the remembrance ceremony the Exchange Club of Naperville plans at the Cmdr. Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 Memorial along the Riverwalk, organizer Marty Walker said.

Lt. Cmdr. Dan Shanower

It's why he invites Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to attend and participate, and why he recruits a new speaker each year to provide perspective on a day of American tragedy and togetherness.

“My goal is to make sure the future leaders of America know what took place during this horrific event,” Walker said, “so we always keep this educational process going forward, so it never happens again.”

The ceremony begins with the tolling of the bells of the Millennium Carillon at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and a Naperville Municipal Band performance at 5:45 p.m. from the plaza around the memorial at the municipal center, 400 S. Eagle St.

Then the speeches from city officials begin at 6 p.m., typically including reflections and updates on public safety initiatives from police and fire chiefs.

This year, those who gather also will hear from featured speaker Charles F. Johanns, who was a co-chairman of the committee to build the Shanower memorial, along with the late Mayor George Pradel.

Johanns, a veteran of the Army reserves who had a career in journalism, insurance and education, was “the guy that made it happen” for the memorial, Walker said. The memorial, dedicated in 2003, honors Dan Shanower, a 40-year-old Naperville native who was killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.

Johanns' speech will recap what it took to create the lasting memorial to Shanower, which includes a sculpture with a beam of wreckage from the World Trade Center in New York City, fragments of the facade from the Pentagon and granite from Pennsylvania, as well as a “Wall of Faces.”

Dan Shanower's mother, Pat Shanower, will be on hand Wednesday for the dedication of a new plaque commemorating the history of the memorial in her son's honor. Daily Herald file photo

Walker said Johanns will be joined by Shanower's mother, Pat Shanower, as he dedicates a new plaque commemorating the history of the memorial. The plaque will be unveiled on the “Wall of Faces” and will accompany other plaques that mark the sculpture as part of the Century Walk Corp. public art project and highlight the resolution the city council passed in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

New at this year's event will be a musical performance of the Eagles song “Hole in the World” by 12-year-old Natasha Lumb of Indian Head Park, a niece of Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis.

The song, Walker said, captures the emotions of Sept. 11 poignantly with its lyrics of fear and sorrow, anger and fighting and its repeated line, “There's a hole in the world tonight.”

“That's exactly how I felt,” Walker said. “There's a hole in our hearts. How could it happen?”

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If you go

What: Sept. 11 Remembrance

When: Carillon bells toll at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday; Naperville Municipal Band performs at 5:45 p.m.; Ceremony begins at 6 p.m.

Where: Cmdr. Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 Memorial, north side of the Naperville Municipal Center along the Riverwalk, 400 S. Eagle St.

Who: Featured speaker Charles F. Johanns and city officials

Cost: Free


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