'A sinking feeling that doesn't go away': Naperville ceremony honors Sept. 11 victims
At the tolling of the Millennium Carillon bells Friday evening, Naperville leaders and residents honored the memory of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Among the victims was Naperville native Cmdr. Dan Shanower, a 40-year-old naval intelligence officer who was working at the Pentagon when tragedy struck 19 years ago. A memorial dedicated to him and all who perished now stands along the Riverwalk behind city hall, where crowds of community members gather annually in remembrance.
This year, about 200 people congregated around the Riverwalk, lining the DuPage River and either saluting or placing hands over hearts as colors were presented.
Among those there were American Airlines flight attendants.
"It's heartbreaking," said Wendy Schaven of Plano, who spoke for the attendants. "You think every year would get better, but it doesn't. It's a sinking feeling that doesn't go away."
Schaven said she thinks about the first responders who died Sept. 11, 2001.
"I think about how they try to contact our operations," she said. " ... Everybody that woke up that day, it was a normal day to them and they didn't return home."
Sponsored by the Exchange Club of Naperville, this year's event featured music from the Naperville Municipal Band and a member of the Young Naperville Singers, as well as ceremonial duties performed by the Naperville Firefighters Highland Guard and a combined Color Guard.
Speakers included Exchange Club President Ron Amato, Exchange Club Americanism Committee member Marty Walker, Mayor Steve Chirico, Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis and Police Chief Robert Marshall.
'Love is the ultimate force' in Roselle
Pause. Reflect. Honor.
That was the purpose of a brief service held Friday afternoon outside Roselle United Methodist Church in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said the Rev. Zaki L. Zaki, senior pastor.
Zaki talked about being called to ground zero in New York City to serve with other pastors from around the country after the attacks, which destroyed the twin 110-story towers at the World Trade Center.
"I remember to this day the message on a billboard near the site. It said, 'Fear is not the ultimate force in the world today, love is.' It was very overwhelming," he told the gathering of 18 residents and seven police officers on the Roselle church's lawn. "We wept together."
While maintaining social distancing guidelines, community members gathered on the church's front lawn to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died on that fateful day 19 years ago.
They prayed for the officers who were in attendance. They prayed for the victims' surviving families. They prayed for communities both locally and globally. They prayed for the protection of first responders.
They prayed for peace.
Zaki said he hoped attendees walked away with a key message: Though fear may be at work among them, "love is the ultimate force."
-- John Starks
Batavia VFW hosts Patriot Day
The Batavia Overseas Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1197 and Auxiliary hosted a Patriot Day tribute Friday to honor everyone lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
About 125 people safely social-distanced themselves as they gathered on the 6-acre lawn behind the VFW building.
Country artist and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Bill Gray performed a free outdoor concert, pausing for a memorial reflection at exactly 7 p.m. to honor 9/11 and post-9/11 veterans and first responders.
Gray slowly read the events that took place that day 19 years ago.
"That was as tough to read as it was to hear," admitted Gray after finishing addressing the crowd.
Mary Ellen Hollis of Elmwood Park wiped away a tear as it rolled down her cheek during the program. She said sh e usually attends at least two ceremonies for Sept. 11.
"COVID-19 has over taken everything," Hollis said. "... We will take back our country."
Local police and fire departments were on hand and recognized by the crowd after Gray thanked them.
-- Brian Hill
Palatine firefighters remember
In memory of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, members of the Palatine Fire Department Honor Guard Friday placed a wreath at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial and performed a ceremonial ringing of the bell to signify a firefighter's last call of duty.
Because of coronavirus restrictions on crowd size and social distancing guidelines, the historic assembly of firefighters and police officers did not occur. Only those directly involved in the ceremony and a few members of the public were present. The ceremony began at 9 a.m. with members of the Palatine Fire Department Honor Guard marching from Fire Station 85 at 39 E. Colfax St. to the memorial site at the corner of North Brockway and West Slade Streets in downtown Palatine.
Retired Palatine Firefighter Mark Hallett spoke after a benediction.
"No amount of time could or should diminish the accounts of that day," he said. "We will never forget images of firefighters rushing to the scene. We will never forget the terrible images of that day."
-- John Starks