Millions of Americans tuned in as President Barack Obama announced that the United States Military killed Osama bin Laden, the terrorist behind the September 11th, 2001 attacks. The news has brought back many memories and feelings about the 9/11 attacks for Americans across the country.
Right here in Naperville, we have our own reminder. Naperville created one of the first 9/11 memorials in the country, and for some, it’s been a place to show their respect in light of the latest development.
For Naperville residents Don and Pat Shanower, the news of bin Laden came as a shock.
Their son, a Naval intelligence officer, Commander Dan Shanower was a causality of the plane crash at the Pentagon on 9/11.
“Since our son worked in intelligence we knew it was a culmination of a project that he worked on. So in that way it was satisfaction.” said Pat.
Commander Shanower was the only Naperville resident killed in the attacks, but the entire community rallied to support both his family and the families of other causalities.
“It was overwhelming, the kind of spirit that was shown after 9/11,” said Pat.
In 2002 Naperville formed a committee to build a special 9/11 memorial located on the Riverwalk behind the Municipal Center. 140 faces are molded into a wall, symbolizing the deaths in the attacks, an eternal flame burns night and day, and in the center of the memorial stands a sculpture that includes rubble from the pentagon, a twisted steel beam from the World Trade Center, and granite from the Pennsylvania field where Flight 93 crashed.
“We’re overwhelmed by it to be honest,” said Don. “We never thought this sort of thing would come to fruition.”
“It started when a friend said it would be nice to have a flag on the Riverwalk in our son’s honor and it just mushroomed,” said Pat. “It’s one of the first to be completed in the U.S. There are many cities who lost more personnel who don’t yet have a memorial, so we’re honored.”
This September will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and the Shanowers will never forget that “Freedom isn’t Free.”
“All those in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve the same kind of attention as our son,” said Pat. “We pray that there wouldn’t be more gold stars in windows.”
The Shanowers plan to spend the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in San Diego, where the navy will name a conference room after their son.
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