ALGONQUIN – The message to Jacobs High School students on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was simple yet meaningful: never forget.
The majority of social studies students were too young to remember exactly what took place that day when close to 3,000 people were killed after 19 terrorists hijacked four airliners.
“You were at an age where you probably saw what happened, but you were really too young to understand,” Schaumburg Fire Department Lt. John Schneidwind told students gathered in the auditorium. “Take a look around now because this world needs help, and you can be a part of it.”
Several events took place Tuesday throughout McHenry County to honor those killed on 9/11. Others served as a reminder of how important it is to remember what happened and how the country changed that day.
Schneidwind was part of a group of firefighters who traveled to ground zero immediately after planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and a field in western Pennsylvania.
The attacks killed 2,977 people from 93 countries – 2,753 people in New York, 184 people at the Pentagon and 40 people aboard United Flight 93.
“Going to help was an honor,” said Schneidwind, who spent the first six days after the attacks performing search-and-rescue at ground zero. “Volunteering was a simple decision – we had to go,” he said.
The young audience gazed silently Tuesday as a slideshow of the carnage that followed the collapse of the Twin Towers played and Schneidwind described what he and others went through.
“All of us continue to fight a private war mentally because of what we saw,” he said. “Our world lost its innocence when the blue skies Sept. 11 were filled with the dark smoke of terrorism.”
Sixteen-year-old Ron Aversano was only a small child when the attacks took place and said it gets harder with time to remember that day when many of the students weren’t old enough to understand the magnitude of what was going on.
“It’s important for my generation to remember because so many people lost their lives that day,” Aversano said. “We need to remember the heroic actions of others.”
Freshman Eileen Berry agreed.
“It’s important to remember because people came into our country and attacked us,” she said. “So many innocent people gave their lives that day.”
Elsewhere in the county, residents gathered for remembrance services.
Sun City residents gathered Tuesday morning at the 9/11 American Flag Memorial to toll the bell for the victims of the 9/11 events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Dianne Deegan, Linda Bahwell, Mary Ann Zachary, Bob and Diane Peterson, and Cynthia Bidgood took turns striking the brass bell at 7:46 a.m. for crash of American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center, at 8:03 a.m. for crash of United Flight 175 into the south tower of the World Trade Center, at 8:37 a.m. for crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, and at 9:03 a.m. for crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
At Riverfront Park in Algonquin, the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District dedicated 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 14-foot section of the World Trade Center.
“Never forget,” Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District Chief Kevin Rynders said. “That is the model that should be adopted by everyone.”