The morning of Sept. 11 was bright and clear, as nearly 200 people gathered at Dawes Park to commemorate the terrorist attacks of 10 year ago. Fire Chief Greg Klaiber presided over the ceremony, at which Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Police Chief Richard Eddington also spoke.
With mourning and praise for the fallen, remembrances of the day of the attacks and the aftermath, speakers turned to how life is lived in the post-9/11 era.
“The terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 people: 343 firefighters, 60 police officers and 2,752 civilians,” said Chief Klaiber.
Mayor Tisdahl said, “We should remember the finest parts of our history, when we came together. … I hope that, 10 years later, we will show that spirit of coming together [when the community united for a candlelight vigil and to help the victims]. As we mourn the victims and mourn the tragedy, let us remember … when we as a country were at our finest.”
Commissioner Suffredin noted that from this terrorist attack, as from the attack at Pearl Harbor, “came a sense of unity … that led us into a better sense of public service and sense of security.”
“The brilliance of the sun today certainly makes a profound sense of sorrow and sadness that touches every one of us.” He noted how his children, like all pre-teens, have been “shaped by something they did not experience.” Rituals, he said, “give us the opportunity and the moorings to retain our faith … even when we are shaken to the core.”
Recalling the moments of the attacks, fire chaplain David Jones said, “Everybody stopped, everybody stepped back except the first responders. … We cannot bring those many back, but we can honor them here. When you hear the wail of a siren in town, think deep thoughts of gratitude.”
Referring to the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote of “hope and valor,” he said those qualities were displayed by the first responders on 9/11. “That is the finest tradition of our combined services. It is [the community’s] expectation [from] first responders and our expectation of ourselves.”
Chief Klaiber presented “two objects, examples of the best of humanity and the worst”: the relic from the terrorist attacks, born of hatred, he said, and a sculpture, created from love and compassion by local artist Valerie Engel Schiff. Both will be on public display at the fire department headquarters, 909 Lake St.
Natalie Vanderlaan of Evanston Township High School led the singing throughout the ceremony. Chris Brophy played the pipes, and Ben Nidenberg of Evanston Boy Scout Troop 3 closed the ceremony with “Taps.”
A Walk from Mosque to Synagogue
About 300 people gathered at the Dar-us-Sunnah Masjid and Community Center near Twiggs Park to walk, first with friends and then with strangers, to the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation synagogue near James Park. Members of PeaceAble Cities Evanston, who organized the 2.1-mile walk, requested that walkers frequently change “”partners”” and get to know others. The purpose was to strengthen the sense of community, said Joey Rodger of Evanston Friends and co-founder of Peaceable Cities Evanston. The group hopes to create a “”new ‘we’”” in Evanston, she said, perhaps a “”woven Evanston.””
“”We would hope to dispel rumors, myths, stigmas and negative notions about people who are not like us,”” Loyce Spells of Peaceable Cities told the RoundTable.
A tent outside the Masjid was open to all for gathering and speeches by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Muhammad Saiduzzaman, president of Dar-us-Sunnah, and Rabbi Brant Rosen of JRC. Earlier in the day, those who attended the worship service were urged to stand in unity with others in “”this great country. Peace is not something you buy at a grocery store.”” Again urging active participation, the speaker said, “”You can come as a guest or you can come as the dinner. Let us be part of this great American country.