For 14th Year, Champaign Remembers 9-11 Attacks

Onlookers with umbrellas gather for Champaign's 9-11 memorial ceremony at Westside Park, under a US flag hoisted by a crane.

A US flag hoisted by a crane hangs over onlookers at Champaign's 9-11 memorial ceremony at Westside Park.

(Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media)

Members of Champaign’s police and fire departments --- and about 30 onlookers --- gathered in West Side Park Friday morning to remember first responders who died in the September 11th attacks, fourteen years ago.

A light rain fell as a bell was rung to memorialize those who died in the September 11th attacks --- including 411 firefighters, police officers and medical personnel who responded at the World Trade Center in New York City.

Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen was among those delivering brief remarks at the ceremony.

“So as we come together now, and as we go about our day, let us remember those who died, along with the many heroes who rushed to their side, on that tragic and transformative day, 14 years ago,” said Feinen.

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julie Reitz and Champaign Fire Chief Gary Ludwig also spoke.

The brief ceremony has been held in Champaign every year since the attacks in 2001. In his remarks, Chief Ludwig complimented the city of Champaign for continuing the annual ceremony, even as other communities have dropped their commemorations.

And, speaking before the ceremony, Ludwig said it was important for such observances to continue, for the benefit of a new generation too young to remember the September 11th attacks.

“For those who have never experienced 9-11, those children who have been born since then,”, said Ludwig, “I would hope that we not only think about the memorial of those sacrifices, but also to keep them ever vigilant, and remember that there are people out there wanting to hurt us.”

The ceremony opened with Patrolman Ben Newell of the Champaign Police, singing “The Star Spangled Banner”. It concluded with the playing of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. Dressed in a kilt, Champaign Fire Dept. Lieutenant Todd Hitt began his rendition at the ceremony, and continued as he marched away gathering, the music fading into the distance.

Story source: WILL