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September 11, 2012

'We dare not forget': Metro-east ceremonies honor 9/11 victims


Numerous metro-east area firefighters and police officers paused Tuesday to remember those victims of the terrorist Sept. 11 attacks that occurred 11 years ago.

Belleville firefighters hosted a brief ceremony Tuesday morning at Firehouse No. 4 in Belleville and aside a giant reminder of that day. Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert and Belleville Fire Department Chaplain Darrell Coons addressed those who gathered beside a 35-foot-long, 7,100-pound, twisted, rusted steel beam that was once part of the World Trade Center in New York City. The artifact will be a centerpiece to the Sept. 11 Memorial Walkway that will be constructed on the front lawn of Firehouse No. 4 at 1125 S. Illinois St.

Fire truck Ladder 19 hoisted a huge American flag as people arrived to the firehouse. Also on display was a framed American flag with the names of the EMS workers who died on Sept. 11, 2001, as they attempted to help victims. Each name was printed within the seven horizontal red stripes.

"So we are so thankful, as we pause, to those courageous men and women," Eckert said. "They obviously realized what was happening and they fought to make sure that more lives weren't lost that day."

Coons also spoke before leading a prayer and a brief moment of silence. He said that it seems that with each passing year since the terrorist attacks, Americans remember a little more about what happened and hear new stories.

"We dare not forget," Coons said. "Those colors that you see draped in front of you do not come at a cheap price. And it's up to us to continue to stand for those colors, to stand for our liberty, to stand for our independence, to love our country and to care for one another in building strong communities and a stronger country."

Similar ceremonies took place across the region and the country Tuesday. At Lindenwood University in Belleville, city firefighters and police officers hosted a memorial service on the steps of the auditorium honoring victims and all American service men and women.

In Collinsville, at approximately 8:47 a.m., about the time when the first tower at the World Trade Center was hit by a plane, Collinsville firefighters, police officers and civic leaders paused for a moment of silence and reflection.

Across town at Fairmount Park, horse racing fans paused for a moment of silence at 1 p.m. before the first race of the day.

In Granite City, Rep. Jerry Costello II rededicated a monument at America's Central Port that is a tribute to those who served in Operation Desert Shield and honors military service.

Another ceremony, A Remembering Our Heroes, 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, was held Tuesday afternoon at the Leu Civiv Center in Mascoutah.

The Holiday Shores Volunteer Fire Department was scheduled to hold an open house Tuesday evening. The agenda included a brief ceremony, moment of silence in remembrance of fallen firefighters and a formal lowering of the flags at sunset.

Collinsville Police were scheduled to hold an event at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site Tuesday evening to simulate the climb first responders made to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Participants walked up and down the stairway on Monks Mound to commemorate those who climbed several flights of stairs trying to save those trapped in the twin towers.