Local organizations including the Urbana Rotary Club worked together to mark Patriots Day on the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
A beam from the fallen World Trade Center is a focal point at Freedom Grove, where Wednesday’s “We Will Never Forget” ceremony was held. Freedom Grove is a patriotic park orchestrated and built by Rotarians at the corner of U.S. Route 68 and state Route 55 near the county government’s community center. Freedom Grove also houses the Bicentennial Bell and is a gathering place for citizens of all ages to learn about history.
Urbana Rotary Club President Paul Waldsmith led the coordination of this year’s observance.
“First responders Jamie Shaffner and Craig Evans worked closely with our local VFW/DAV and several other groups to coordinate the annual 9/11 ceremonies,” Waldsmith said. “Without Jamie’s and Craig’s leadership I don’t know this annual event would continue each year.”
Urbana City Schools’ eighth-grade classes attended the bulk of the 9/11 ceremonies. “Junior High Principal Jason Schultz and Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel were very supportive when the Urbana Rotary Club’s Freedom Grove committee asked them to participate this year,” Waldsmith said. Urbana students walked the Freedom Grove grounds as they viewed 9/11 artifacts and spoke with first responders.
Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital supplied lunch to the participating honor guards, first responders and their families during the event.
Recovery Zone spent many hours this week helping Rotary’s Freedom Grove committee and first responders beautify the grounds of the patriotic park.
Patriots Day mirrored and marked the chronology of events on Sept. 11, 2001, including when each hijacked airliner hit each of the two World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, as well as the airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania. The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.