Naperville 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony 2020

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“Those of us in the military are expected to make the ultimate sacrifice when called. The military loses scores of personnel each year. Each one risked and lost his or her life in something they believed in, leaving behind friends, family and shipmates to bear the burden and celebrate their devotion to our country…Freedom isn’t free.”

– Commander Dan Shanower

Remembering September 11th, 2001

Naperville, Illinois, was one of the first cities in America to dedicate a memorial to those who died in the September 11, 2001, attacks on America. The 9/11 memorial was inspired by Naperville native Naval Commander Dan Shanower, who died in the attack on the Pentagon. Dedicated on September 11, 2003, the memorial is nestled between the DuPage River and the Municipal Center in downtown Naperville.

Commander Dan Shanower

Commander Dan F. Shanower, 40, combined strong patriotism with a taste for adventure and a wonderful sense of humor. A Navy intelligence officer, he had just begun gathering information on the World Trade Center attacks to brief his superiors when the hijacked plane that struck the Pentagon killed him.

Commander Shanower grew up in Naperville, and attended Naperville public schools, later graduating from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He joined the Navy and was commissioned as an officer in 1985.

Honoring All the 9/11 Casualties

The memorial takes its theme from an article written by Commander Shanower entitled “Freedom Isn’t Free.” It includes more than 140 faces created by Naperville schoolchildren symbolizing the casualties of 9/11. These faces are molded onto the surface of a 48-foot retaining wall that serves as a backdrop to the memorial that also incorporates an eternal flame.  At the center of the memorial, a sculpture designed by Benton Harbor, Michigan, artist Bill Cooper integrates 100 pounds of rubble from the damaged portion of the Pentagon, a twisted steel beam from the World Trade Center and granite from the Pennsylvania region where Flight 93 crashed after passengers took on the hijackers. Incised into the sculpture are an outline of Commander Shanower’s boot print, the insignias of New York area rescue workers, and the number “93,” in memory of the Pennsylvania crash victims. The memorial plaza is surrounded by a perennial garden.  The picturesque site is along the Naperville Riverwalk on the banks of the west branch of the DuPage River and adjacent to the city’s Municipal Center. The memorial was built on land provided by the Naperville City Council with privately raised funds and donated goods and services.