The Evanston Fire and Police Departments held a memorial ceremony on Sept. 11 to pay tribute to those who lost their lives 16 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001. About 100 Evanston police officers, firefighters, elected officials, and community members gathered from 8:15 to 9:20 a.m. at Fireman’s Park, at the corner of Simpson Street and Maple Avenue.

The ceremony marked the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa.

The gathering brought back memories for State Representative Laura Fine. “Today is like a moment frozen in time. It was a sunny day exactly like today. Sixteen years later, we must keep our memories alive and take time for reflection,” she said.

Mayor Steve Hagerty spoke of the selflessness of first responders on 9/11 and the days that followed. “Today is a solemn day, a day we pay tribute to all of those who gave their lives to save another,” said the Mayor.

Chief of Police Richard Eddington referred to the 343 firefighters, 71 police officers, and 55 military personnel who lost their lives in the attacks. “We will never forget your services and sacrifices,” he said.

Fire Department Chief Brian Scott, who recently returned from a visit to the memorial at Ground Zero with his 16-year-old son, also reflected on the importance of preserving memories of 9/11 for future generations. “To my son, it was an important educational experience, because it was a pivotal moment in American history. You really are never going to get it unless you lived it and experienced it, but at least he can get some sense of the gravity of that day,” said Chief Scott.

He also spoke of the Survivor Tree, a damaged tree discovered in the rubble at Ground Zero, which was rehabilitated and returned to the memorial there. He viewed the beautiful new branches growing from gnarled stumps as a perfect analogy for the resilience of New York.

Former Evanston resident and Evanston Township High School graduate Mark Shore said his life was forever changed by the terrorist attacks. Mr. Shore, who now lives in Chicago, was working on the 67th floor of the South Tower when the first plane hit the North Tower. Despite being advised that it was safe to stay where he was, he made it out of the building by walking down the stairs before the towers fell. Telling his story at remembrance ceremonies like the one held annually in Evanston is now part of his life.

“I saw New Yorkers coming together in a way I’d never seen before. Volunteerism was huge,” said Mr. Shore, adding, “We need to keep these memories and stories alive.”

The ceremony concluded with the sounding of the bell by retired Evanston Fire Department Captain Dale Fochs, and the Police and Fire Honor Guards retrieval of colors.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.