Chicago area remembers terror attack victims

September 11, 2010 (CHICAGO) The day is primarily reserved for remembering and mourning the nearly 3,000 people who died in the September 11th terrorists attacks. However, this 9th anniversary of the tragedy was observed despite protests over plans to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero and one church pastor's threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

A candlelight memorial was held on the city's North Side Saturday night to remember the victims.

The remembrance took place all along West Berteau Avenue between Leclaire and Milwaukee Avenue.

A procession of candles stood on the sidewalk. There was also a Chicago Fire Department ladder truck salute.

A community leader gave a eulogy for the first responders and seven Chicago residents who died that day.

Earlier in the day Saturday, a bell tolled in the Chicago area on the day of mourning for those lost in the attacks. Among the many who gathered to remember and reflect at a ceremony in west suburban Naperville were the parents of town native Commander Dan Shanower, who died when the Pentagon came under attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's always hard to memorialize the day you lost a son," said mother Pat Shanower.

The observance was one of several around Chicago and the nation to pay tribute to the victims.

The images of the day nine years ago are still vivid in the mind of first responders like retired firefighter Chuck Wehrli.

"The looks on the faces of the firemen and the policemen that survived in desperation looking for their relatives," Wehrli said.

Gov. Pat Quinn also honored Illinois' service members sacrificed in the War on Terror.

The Portrait of a Soldier memorial exhibit includes more than 250 Illinois men and women killed in the service to our country since Sept. 11, 2001.

"It never goes away. It's been three years now, and know in your heart you'll never see them again, and that's what hurts the most," said Sylvia Cheehy, whose son died in the war.

While visiting a youth activity center Saturday, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley held a moment of silence to mark the times when the hijacked jetliners hit the World Trade Center towers and their subsequent collapse.

But Saturday's quiet reflection gave way to controversy as the debate raged over a plan to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero. In response to the debate and threats by a Florida pastor to burn the Muslim holy book, the American Library Association and two Chicago area Islamic groups read passages from the Quran.

"The extremists that caused the attacks on 9/11 do not represent the vast majority of Muslims who see Islam as a submission to God," said Gerald Hankerson of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Florida Pastor Terry Jones rescinded his threat to burn copies of the Quran, saying he feels now that God is telling his church to stop.

Many of those who participated in local and national observances Saturday said they hoped to find some sort of closure through unity and understanding.

The United States has been at war since just after September 11, 2001. Another special event held Saturday morning in northwest suburban Barrington was in honor of the country's troops.

Republican nominee for governor Bill Brady was on hand at the Support Our Troops Freedom Festival, which featured music and family-oriented activities, along with some special events to let the men and women serving overseas know they have support back home.

Families in west suburban River Forest also hosted their own commemoration of September 11 with their annual charity lemonade stand.

The "Kids Helping Kids 9/11 Charity Lemon-Aid Stand" supports Opportunity Knocks, an organization which provides opportunities and resources for people with developmental disabilities so they can pursue their educational, vocational and social interests.

The event started in 2002 as a way to put a positive spin on a tragic day in our country's history.

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