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Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 @ 6:44 PM
URBANA — The Patriot’s Day remembrance in Urbana’s Freedom Grove was two-fold — pay respects to the fallen and make sure the next generation never forgets how close 9/11 hits to home.
There were moments of silence — at the time American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center and another when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower.
It’s that second moment of silence that cuts a little deeper for dozens of people in Champaign County.
Alicia Titus, a 28-year-old Champaign County native was a flight attendant aboard Flight 175 when it crashed.
PHOTO GALLERY: Urbana 9/11 Memorial Service
Some of Titus’ family members were in attendance for Wednesday’s ceremony — joined by dozens of first responders, some of them from as far as 50 miles away.
The entire eighth grade from Urbana City Schools walked through Freedom Grove — when 9/11 happened, none of them were born yet.
“If they ask us questions, we just try to tell them what did happen that day — what we experienced,” said one of the organizers of the day of remembrance, Ken Lancaster with the U.S. Army Brotherhood of Tankers Iron Horse Buckeye Battalion.
Lancaster and two other organizers — Jamie Shaffner, also with Buckeye Battalion and Craig Bennett from VFW Post 5451 and DAV Chapter 31 helped to get everything in order for the day, including lining Freedom Grove with American flags.
The ceremony concluded with a 21 gun salute and Taps.
“In our hearts, we know this is the right thing to do to remember what happened on that day,” Bennett said through tears.
Even after the ceremony was over, there was a consistent stream of people who flowed into the park.
The most defining feature of Freedom Grove is a piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center Towers. It was where a lot of people stopped to say a little prayer or pay their respects.
Urbana Elementary Intervention Specialist, Kelli Wright stopped at Freedom Grove on her lunch break.
She said as she walked past the benches and memorials — the memories of that day came flooding back.
She said it turned out to be a “treacherous misery” of a day for a lot of people, but it was also optimistic — in the way that people would lay down their lives for others.
“It also taught us in our history, as well in our lives that we have to rebuild,” she said.
There’s a special space in Freedom Grove in remembrance of Titus that caught Wright’s attention, as well as several others who walked through after the ceremony.
Wright said it’s proof of just how interconnected — the world really is even in the midst of a national tragedy.
2,977 — People killed on Sept. 11, 2001
6,000 — Approximate number of people injured
4 — Planes that were hijacked
The Springfield News-Sun has provided extensive coverage of the 9/11 terror attacks since the tragedy unfolded. The News-Sun has provided readers with national perspective, local connections and present-day remembrances.