9-11 postcards 2021-08-21 002_web
Local News

Remembrances planned as 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches


The clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001 quickly turned into one of the darkest days in United States history when terrorists hijacked several planes and took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. Among the victims were innocent people who boarded planes that day, individuals working in the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon, as well as first responders working to save others when the towers collapsed.

Around the country, various remembrances and ceremonies will honor those lost. Here are a few happening in Homewood and Flossmoor:


Postcard project

Homewood Police Chief Denise McGrath initiated a project that will enable local residents to write postcards to thank the first responders in New York and New Jersey “to let them know that the service and sacrifice of their police officers and firefighters is not forgotten.”


McGrath noted that almost 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, and the first responders who worked throughout the rescue and recovery — and other survivors — continue to die from 9/11-related illnesses due to their exposure to toxic dust and other debris.

Members of the community who want to send a message honoring the first responders to the agencies that lost staff on 9/11 can pickup a postcard at a number of local businesses or in the lobby of Homewood village hall, where there is a drop box for returning completed cards. The cards will be mailed early in September. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

“Initially I wanted to have a ceremony/event on Sept. 11 in front of the police department and fire department,” said McGrath. “However, when I realized there were so many conflicting events, both related and un-related to 9/11, I began to consider alternate ways to honor first responders and all those who perished that day.”

Currently postcards can be picked up and dropped off at nearly two dozen Homewood locations.  New locations are being added and will be posted on the police department Facebook page.  McGrath will be collecting and mailing out the postcards throughout the month.

  • Homewood Police Department, 17950 Dixie Highway
  • Homewood Village Hall, 2020 Chestnut Ave.
  • Bookie’s, 2015 Ridge Road
  • The Villager Gift Shop, 2007 Ridge Road
  • VanSipma’s Jewelers, 2011 Ridge Road
  • Melody Mart, 18062 Dixie Highway
  • Vickies Fashion Jewelry,  2025 Ridge Road
  • UpsaDaisy Boutique, 18100 Martin Ave.
  • LouLou Belle, 2049 Ridge Road
  • Red Bird Café, 2057 Ridge Road
  • Homewood Florist, 18064 Martin Ave.
  • Beauty Starts Within Cosmetics, 2050 Ridge Road
  • Homewood Science Center, 18022 Dixie Highway
  • Culture Food & Entertainment, 18031 Dixie Highway
  • Cancer Support Center, 2028 Elm Road
  • Jonathon Kane, 18065 Harwood Ave.
  • Art 4 Soul, 18135 Harwood Ave.
  • Serendipity, 18300 Dixie Highway
  • South Suburban Humane Society Adoption Center, 2207 W 183rd St.
  • Thomas Photographic Service, 18705 Dixie Highway

As someone who was working in law enforcement at the time, it is an event that remains fresh and vivid to McGrath. 

“I remember that day like it was yesterday. There are no words that adequately express the emotions from that day and every day since when I think about the selfless and heroic actions from so many people,” she said. “The ripple effect from that one day and the way it has touched and impacted so many lives is immeasurable.”


Hidden Gem Half Marathon

The Annual Flossmoor Fest takes place on Sept. 11 this year following the Hidden Gem Half Marathon. Although it will be day of fun and celebration, the day will begin in remembrance. 

“We’ll be very conscious of the day and will be recognizing our first responders in our community as well as participating in a moment of silence. Right before race we’ll be asking participants and spectators to recognize the national moment of silence,” said Tom Dobrez, race organizer and co-founder of Flossmoor’s Future. “We’ve got over 800 runners, so we expect close to 1,500 total all together participating in the moment of silence.”

The national moment of silence occurs annually on Sept. 11 at 8:46 a.m. EST (7:46 a.m. in Homewood and Flossmoor) and is observed every year to correspond with the time of the terrorist attacks. It marks the time American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. 

Proceeds from the race are helping to fund a commemorative bench being dedicated that day in a small memorial garden that will be situated in front of the Flossmoor Fire Department. The dedication will also take place before the race. 

For more information on the Hidden Gem Half Marathon, visit hiddengemhalf.com


Library exhibit

The Homewood Public Library will be featuring a poster exhibit provided by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum the week before and after the 9/11 anniversary. 

“In conjunction with the poster exhibit, we will be hosting a webinar with a viewing of a video produced by the museum with stories from family members of victims, first responders and students. There will be an opportunity, facilitated through the library, for patrons to ask questions of the museum staff after the video,” said Ashley Sander, event coordinator.


Honoring veterans

Although not directly focused on 9/11, Commander John Beele of Wally Burns VFW Post 8077 in Homewood is encouraging local residents to attend a kick-off event on Sept. 12 from 2-4 p.m. at Flossmoor Community Church for the Flossmoor Veterans’ Wall of Honor Project. 

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 led to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this memorial project will honor all Flossmoor veterans from World War I on, he explained. He also noted that Navy Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Murphy was a Flossmoor native who was killed while working at the Pentagon on 9/11 when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building.

Beele’s memory of that day is still clear after two decades. Following a successful golf outing the day before at the Cancer Support Center, Beele and his wife were discussing the event over coffee that morning when his son called and told him to turn on the television. 

“At that time we thought a small plane accidentally flew into building. Everyone was watching. And then here comes the second plane and crashes into the second tower and everything just stopped,” he recalled. “No one went to work or did anything. And then a plane crashed into Pentagon. And the last crashed in Shanksville, Pa. Then all the planes were grounded for several days and none were flying. It was very eerie.

“The following weekend Flossmoor Fest was scheduled, and there was discussion on whether or not to cancel it. It went on, and we opened up with a big ceremony with religious leaders and it turned out to be really focused on what had happened that week. Flossmoor has always been very in tune with celebrating veterans and America.”

He also remembered attending a vigil that night at Infant Jesus of Prague Church and that a neighbor had been on a work call with a trading company in the World Trade Center when the plane crashed. 

“There were a lot of personal stories here in town,” he said.

For more ideas on how to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary, visit 911memorial.org. The site includes information on where you can participate in 9/11 stair climbs honoring the 343 first responders who died that day by climbing 110 stories and information on the 9/11 Heroes Run locations.

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