No Matter Where you Live, 9/11 Hits Home

September 11, 2010

9/11 is one of those days that you remember where you were when it happened.

I had just had a baby and was so exhausted that I thought the break-in coverage of a plane crashing into a tower was part of a TV movie.

When reality hit, I sat glued to that TV for days, crying over the world I had just brought my child into.

Each 9/11, you have to take time to reflect on that horrific day.

There were rumors that the Willis (Sears) Tower was also a target on 9/11. Extra security measures were taken after that day in our city's skyscrapers.

“The attacks of September 11, 2001, changed forever the way Americans think about their safety,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley. “Since that day, which we always remember with special clarity around this time, our personal security and our nation’s security became more connected than ever before.”

Mayor Daley held a news conference the day before this year’s 9/11 to unveil a pilot program that will help Chicago move into the next generation of efficiency in emergency situations.

Thanks to a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has been able to test new technology that allows 911 calls to include text messages and multimedia messaging pictures.

Right now, Chicago residents have to call 911 before sending their texts or pictures. In the future, they will be able to send the picture or text directly.

Also at the press conference, Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff talked about a new heavy rescue truck the Fire Department has received that comes with a variety of air-driven tools including:

*Jack hammers to break through concrete or streets

*Air knives to clear dirt in trench rescues

*Air bags to lift heavy objects and shore up trenches or tunnels

Police Superintendent Jody Weis described the Police Department’s new “Mine Resistant-Ambush Protected” vehicle that came from the Defense Department and will be used by the SWAT Team in emergency situations after it is modified and outfitted.

Through a $2.8 million federal grant, the Police Department Marine Unit has acquired three new Marine Unit boats, which will be updated with the latest technology.

And, through a separate grant, the Police Department received about $1.7 million worth of SWAT training and equipment such as vests, ballistic blankets and shields, a high-tech camera and ballistic helmets with night-vision equipment.

Finally, Daley thanked U.S. Senator Dick Durbin for his work in helping the city secure a grant of $1 million through the Federal Emergency Operations Center Program to improve the OEMC Center.

“Since 9/11, we have worked even harder than before to carry out our fundamental responsibility to keep Chicago secure and to be fully prepared to manage emergency situations,” said Daley.

“Through a combination of technology and the hard work and dedication of police officers, firefighters and paramedics and the workers at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, our city will remain as safe and prepared as any big city can be.”

* * *

Dan Shanower

Even though Ground Zero was in New York, Illinois was still affected by the devastating events on 9/11, and many suburbs marked the ninth anniversary of the tragedy.

*Naperville: An event sponsored by the Naperville Exhange Club was held this morning to honor Navy Commander Dan Shanower, who perished at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

*Wheeling: Firefighters organized a day-long festival to raise money for children’s burn camps.

*Barrington: This suburb held the Freedom Fest Run, a fundraising event to support soldiers’ families.

*Hanover Park: This community’s first-ever 9/11 memorial ceremony was held at the main fire station.

* * *

At Navy Pier in Chicago, Governor Pat Quinn unveiled an exhibit filled with a series of hand-drawn portraits of more than 250 Illinois men and women who have died in service to our country since September 11, 2001.

The Portrait of a Soldier Memorial exhibit, which begin in 2006, will be on display until September 16 at:

*Chicago’s Navy Pier

*The Peoria Public Library’s Lakeview Branch

*The Six Mile Regional Library District’s Main Library in Granite City

*Inside Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

“As we observe the anniversary of one of America’s darkest days, we must remember those who have given their lives to protect our country and the debt we owe them that can never be repaid,” said Governor Quinn. “I am proud today to stand with some of Illinois’ true heroes – our Gold Star families – as we honor the sacrifice they and their loved ones have made.”

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