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JJC hosts 9/11 ceremony to remember victims of terrorist attacks

College to host survivor

In addition to Wednesday’s memorial service, on Thursday JJC will host Sept. 11 survivor Michael Hingson in the theater in K-Building on the JJC Main Campus, 1215 Houbolt Road, at 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Hingson, who is blind, and his guide dog Roselle escaped from the 78th floor of Tower One moments before it collapsed. Hingson is the author of “Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.” For more information, contact Ed Vasil at evasil@jjc.edu or 815-280-2384.

Updated: October 15, 2013 6:39AM



JOLIET — Some bowed their heads, clasped their hands together and closed their eyes.

Others watched flags flying at half-staff as bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.”

But the dozens of people who gathered at Joliet Junior College’s main campus on Wednesday all took time out of their day to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

For the past seven years, JJC has hosted a memorial service for the almost 3,000 people who lost their lives when terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field when passengers fought back, possibly thwarting an attack on the Capitol or White House.

“It’s important that we take time to pause and reflect as a college and as a community to honor those who lost their lives,” JJC spokeswoman Kelly Rohder said. “This is a day that transformed our nation. And we do this not only to honor the victims and the first responders, but we do it so that we don’t forget.”

The attack will serve as this generation’s Pearl Harbor, said JJC Police Chief Pete Comanda, who spoke at the event held near the school’s bell tower.

“It’s important that we never forget,” Comanda said.

He also hopes people remember the cause of the attack as well as the result.

“They need to remember who the enemy is and that we’re still dealing with that enemy,” he said. “It’s fundamental Islamic terrorists. If we don’t pay attention to that and we don’t remember that, it’s going to happen again.”

During the memorial service, emergency vehicles, some with their lights flashing, flanked the school’s bell tower, which tolled in remembrance for the first responders who died on 9/11.

“They had families of their own, and yet they were willing to give their lives to save the lives of others, because that risk was part of their normal daily routine,” Comanda said.

Comanda also mentioned the many young men and women who signed up for the military as a result of the Sept. 11 attack.

“While some of us wondered what to do, there are others who stepped forward to do their part to protect this nation,” he said.

After the ceremony, which included the playing of taps and a 21-gun salute by the Will County Sheriff’s Police Honor Guard, a movie called “In Memoriam: 9/11/01 New York City” was shown in the JJC cafeteria.

JJC student Pete Sedlacek, 29, of Romeoville, said he couldn’t really watch the destruction being shown on the screen.

“I can’t watch the south (World Trade Center) tower getting hit,” he said. “Because on Sept. 11, 2001, I actually saw the tower get hit live. I was at school. I walked in to ask the teacher a question and they were watching it.”

Sedlacek, who is studying fire science technology and wants to be a firefighter, served in the National Guard and fought in Afghanistan from August 2008 to August 2009.

Suzette Hinkle, a secretary in the JJC Office of Student Activities, stood and watched the film as many students chatted loudly around her.

“As an American, it’s our responsibility to show our patriotism to the people who died for our liberties and fought to bring peace to our country and other countries as well. I think we need to remember, it can happen again. We pray that it doesn’t, but you never know what’s going to happen. It’s just a reminder that we as Americans should stand together.”



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