Twelve years ago America was faced with the biggest terrorist attack ever to occur on American soil.
On September 11th 2001, two planes were hijacked by al-Qaeda and crashed into the World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon and one in a Pennsylvania field.
Former Wheaton resident Todd Beamer was aboard United Airlines Flight 93 that fateful day. He and several passengers attempted to stop the hijacking of the plane that crashed into the Pennsylvania Field.
At the city’s annual remembrance ceremony at the Commander Dan Shanower Memorial, Beamer’s former teacher Roger Burgess spoke about Beamer as a young student and how his character that fateful day came into play.
“It was encouraging that the selfless attitude that was seen in Jr. High was also seen in his death,” said Burgess. “He was a person of character who knew what he stood for. When his character and convictions were tested, he responded in a manner consistent with his entire life.”
Every year the city pays their respects for the men and women killed in the tragedy with a remembrance sponsored by the Naperville Exchange Club.
The Naperville Municipal Band plays patriotic songs, the color guard presents the colors, and the fire department lowers the flag to half-staff.
The leaders of Naperville’s first responders speak every year about how Naperville will never forget.
“This was a time in our lives that was marked by scars that are so deep that the healing process will remain to be endured throughout our lives,” said Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis. “The same scars have made our lives, our city and our country stronger.”
“No president can promise that a catastrophic attack like that of 9/11 will not happen again,” said Police Chief Robert Marshall. “However, American people are entitled to be safe. That is also the mission and the commitment of the Naperville Police Department.”
Naperville native Dan Shanower was in the Pentagon on that September day when American Airlines Flight 77 hit. The Navy Commander died in the attack. Every year, a wreath is laid at his memorial where it’s stated that “freedom isn’t free.”
Naperville was one of the first cities to dedicate a memorial for September 11. Named after Shanower, it features rubble from the Pentagon, a beam from the World Trade Center, and granite from the Pennsylvania field.
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