McHenry County does its part to keep 9/11’s significance alive

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ALGONQUIN – The message to students Tuesday morning at Jacobs High School in Algonquin was simple — never forget.

Those words echoed throughout the school’s auditorium as Lt. John Schneidwind of the Schaumburg Fire Department described his volunteer efforts at ground zero following the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil.

The young audience gazed silently as they viewed photos from the carnage that occurred Sept. 11, 2001, when 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes.

“Our world lost its innocence when the blue skies Sept. 11 were turned into the dark smoke of terrorism,” Schneidwind said. “Never forget what happened that day because it still has an impact on your lives today.”

The slideshow played behind Schneidwind as he detailed the trip he and 50 other Chicago area firefighters made to ground zero the next day to help with search and rescue in New York City.

Many of those social studies students in attendance Tuesday were too young to remember exactly what happened the day two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers.

“There is some disconnect because that day is getting farther and farther away, and a lot of us were not old enough at that time really understand what was going on,” junior Ron Aversano said. “It’s important to remember because a lot of lives were lost.”

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Eleven years after the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil, residents remain steadfast in honoring a day that changed the nation.

Several events are planned throughout McHenry County today that will not only honor those killed Sept. 11, 2001, but also remind residents young and old how important it is to remember what happened.

Nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes that morning, crashing two into the upper floors of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and a third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

The twin towers later collapsed because of damage from the impacts and resulting fires.

The fourth hijacked plane – United Flight 93 – crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania about 20 minutes by air away from Washington, D.C.

The attacks killed 2,977 people from 93 nations. A total of 2,753 people were killed in New York, 184 people were killed at the Pentagon and 40 people were killed on Flight 93.

Locally, officials from Jacobs High School in Algonquin will host presentations for social studies students to educate them on what it means to live after 9/11.

“Kids of this generation don’t really understand the impact 9/11 had not only on this nation, but all over the world,” said Marce Kersten, head of the social studies division at Jacobs. “It was a ripple in a pond that impacted so many other things. We need to understand other cultures and values.”

The event will feature Lt. John Schneidwind of the Schaumburg Fire Department, who worked at ground zero. Other speakers include Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District Chief Kevin Rynders and Lt. Wayne Rothbauer of the Hoffman Estates Fire Department.

A number of events are planned in Sun City Huntley in connection with the 9/11 American Flag Memorial.

The memorial started last year as a way to do something special for the 10th anniversary; it has evolved into a way to educate the public about how things have changed.

“For my age group, things are not like they used to be because of what happened 9/11,” said Catherine Portera, a Sun City resident and event organizer. “For us to forget is to be naive. We really do have to remember because so many things have happened the last 11 years because of that day.”

The Huntley Fire Protection District owns a tower piece from the World Trade Center – a portion of a steel beam – that is on display in the front foyer of Fire Station No. 4 on Algonquin Road.

The piece was obtained through a bid process to procure it from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

It features an inscription reading: “This artifact is a constant reminder of that horrific day in our Nation’s history that we shall never forget. Let it be a reminder also, of the men and women who gave their lives to save others.”

“It’s a reminder of the emergency workers who gave the ultimate sacrifice without hesitating,” Deputy Fire Chief Ken Caudle said. “The monument reminds us daily of why we do what we do.”

The department also hosts a remembrance ceremony each year at Fire Station No. 1.

“People got to see just what firefighters are made of that day,” Caudle said. “There is always a disconnect from what happened because it is human nature to forget over time. This is our vow in Huntley – to remember 9/11.”

Area events:

9/11 REMEMBRANCE FLAGS OF JOHNSBURG, 9 a.m. installation and 7 p.m. retrieval. Commencing at 9 a.m. with placement of American flags on the lawn of the First Midwest Bank, next door to the Johnsburg Public Library, followed by a brief remembrance service. There also will be a 7:30 p.m. remembrance service during the retrieval process. Information: Barbara Klapperich, 815-385-8128, or barbk9jingo@sbcglobal.net.

9/11 CEREMONY IN SENECA TOWNSHIP, 7 p.m. at 16506 Garden Valley Road, Woodstock. A flag dedication for the township’s newly designed flag and invocation and benediction by Marengo Boy Scout Troop 530 for the people who lost their lives.

9/11 CEREMONY IN HUNTLEY, 8:45 a.m., Huntley Fire Protection District headquarters, 11808 Coral St. A short presentation and moment of silence.

SEPT. 11 CEREMONY, 9 a.m., Veterans Memorial Park, 3400 Pearl St., McHenry. The public is invited to join the city of McHenry as it honors the people who lost their lives as well as those who put their lives on the line to protect us. A moment of silence will be observed at 9:05 a.m., marking the time when the South Tower collapsed. The McHenry Honor Guard will raise a flag that flew over Firehouse Engine 10 Ladder 10 located across the street from where Tower 2 of the World Trade Center stood. The flag was donated to the city by local businessman Mark Justen. Information: 815-363-2100.

SEPT. 11 MEMORIAL AND DEDICATION CEREMONY, 6 p.m., Riverfront Park, 201 N. Harrison St. The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District will dedicate its new memorial honoring the memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11 as well as two local firefighters who died in the line of duty. The new memorial features a 15-foot section of the World Trade Center.

9/11 AMERICAN FLAG MEMORIAL, throughout the day, Fountain View Pavilion at Sun City, 12880 Del Webb Blvd., Huntley. The program includes 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. showings of short films “9/11 Narrative,” “Richard’s Story,” “Daily Flag Retreat” and “The Boatlift” in the Drendel Ballroom of the Prairie Lodge in Sun City. From 6 to 8 p.m., luminaria sandbags and glow sticks will be handed out. At 7 p.m., the American Legion will play taps. At sunset, a memory walk will take place around the fountain.

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