A Chicago native who survived the attack on the World Trade Center now travels the world sharing the lessons he learned on September 11, 2001.
Michael Hingson has been blind from birth. He may not have sight, but he certainly has the vision to share his story and make an impact. He's an author and an international lecturer and he wants his words, his experience, to help others, whether those are professionals or students. Hingson, who arrived at O'Hare Airport on Wednesday night, has a lot to share about that day.
"My job is to make 9/11 real," said Hingson, 9/11 survivor.
Hingson and his guide dog Roselle were in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, just 18 floors below the plane's impact. At the time, they didn't realize what had happened. So they calmly walked down 78 stories-- and that proved to be a valuable lesson.
"Don't worry about the things you can't control. Focus on what you can, and move on. I think that's a lesson we all need to learn," said Hingson.
And the lessons of 9/11 carry on in River Forest, where children sell lemonade in memory of the 9/11 victims. That is the focus for Chicagoan Keating Crown, who was injured but escaped the South Tower.
"The anniversary reminds us of the importance of remembering 9/11 and also teaching those too young to remember what happened 12 years ago," said Keating Crown, 9/11 survivor.
Crown serves on the board of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Crown says the Museum, which is set to open in the Spring, "will help the next generation to understand that 9/11's true legacy is one of resilience, compassion and hope. When it opens, it will preserve this important history and help educate future generations."
That education, continues, in the Chicago area with remembrances like this one in Naperville. And people like Hingston, who was only 100 yards away when the South Tower collapsed, yet, together, he and his dog survived.
"Teamwork is extremely important, and the reality in our lives is we should work on the ways of forming teams," said Hingston.
Michael Hingson was born in Chicago. You can hear his story in-person. He's speaking at Joliet Junior College on Thursday, three different times. The presentations are free and they are open to the public.
In north suburban Winnetka, a symbol of America was planted Wednesday to honor of the victims of 9/11. Nearly 3,000 American flags on the Winnetka Village Green represent the number of people who lost their lives that day.
Twelve years ago, Lt. Col Ryan Yantis, of Crystal Lake, was at the Pentagon when a plane struck the building during the September 11th terror attacks.
"I saw the first person badly burned and injured and I switched from just being a bystander to actively helping carry people out of the building going back into the Pentagon in medical supplies helping organize triage and aid to go back and we spent about three and half hours in the inner court erred ready to go into the building search and rescue people," Yantis said at the Union League Club in Chicago.
Lieut. Col. Yantis was honored and decorated for his heroic actions saving civilians and military injured during the attack. A moment of silence was held in honor of those killed when planes struck the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and went down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Another 9/11 tribute was held by the Chicago Fire Department on Wednesday morning. Many first responders were killed an injured helping those in the World Trade Center's Twin Towers and Pentagon.
"Remember that this was a deliberate attack on the innocent, on our nation, on our way of life," said Tom Ryan, Firefighters Union.
Yantis said the worst moment may have been when the flames at the Pentagon were so hot rescuers knew there was nothing else they could do.
"Even though September 11 is a very tragic and there was a great loss of life, the resiliency, the strength of the American people-- just part of the international community how it in the days and weeks after how wonderful we were to ourselves to each other that something we should remember," Lt. Col Yantis said.
Memories of that day still remain vivid for people who say they will never forget where they were on the morning of the attacks.
"The office all ran to the conference room where there was a TV," said D. Villegas.
D. Villegas worked downtown 12 years ago, and remembers looking at what was then the Sears Tower from her office, worried that it could also be a target. She says in the years since, she stayed away from large metropolitan areas but recently got a job in the city. She says the years have put some distance on what happened, but the memory of that day will never fade.
"It will never go away, but just like any other tragic event, it's not as painful as the day that it happened," said D. Villegas.
Now the focus is on trying to educate those born after 9/11 so that they can always preserve and honor the memory of those who died.