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By Kathryn Menue


BELVIDERE – Friday, Sept. 11 marked the 14th anniversary of the day of infamy that has left a forever scar upon America: the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

According to CNN, “nearly 3,000 people” were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on this nation.

The Belvidere Fire Station, located at 123 S. State St. in Belvidere, held a small remembrance ceremony to honor the firefighters and victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

To ensure a smooth and honorably fitting ceremony to the ones who lost their lives so tragically on Sept. 11, 14 years ago, Belvidere Fire Chief Al Hyser shut down State Street from the State Street Bridge to Meadow Street at 9:15 a.m.

The ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. as the 5th graders from Lincoln Elementary School gathered around to listen to Chief Al Hyser’s speech, and to listen to the “words of wisdom and encouragement from Pastor Robert Kopp.”

As the children bounced around waiting for the ceremony to begin, police officers swept through the crowds giving high fives to the children.

Chief Hyser began by leading the audience, of over 100 individuals, in the pledge of allegiance. He then thanked everyone for coming including Belvidere Police Officers, city alderman, retired firefighters, and former Belvidere Fire Chief Dave Worrell.

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Pastor Kopp then took his cue and led the audience in a prayer of remembrance for the services given to the victims of 9/11, to the fallen who lost their lives on that fateful day, to the evils that tried to destroy America, and to the strength of this nation for not letting the “evil” forces over take this great nation.

Chief Hyser continued with Pastor Kopp’s remembrance, by giving his speech on forgetting.

His speech advocated for the remembrance of 9/11 stating that is this generations “Pearl Harbor.”

He continued by stating that people forget that the terrorist attacks still affect America today from the loss of the victims on 9/11 and from the aftermath the attacks left on this country.

Firefighters, volunteers, and escapees now find themselves “dying still today due to cancer and other illnesses” caused from the smoke and chemical inhalation from Sept. 11.

Chief Hyser said that 60 people from 9/11 have already died, and about 403 more have been diagnosed with life-threatening diseases.

Chief Hyser won’t let the 9/11 terrorist attacks fade into nonexistence in the memory of the youth, because he said, “It’s not too late, it’s never too late.”

It’s never too late to start a remembrance ceremony and it is never too late to instill into the youth who weren’t even born when 9/11 occurred about the ramifications that infamous day had upon this country.

Sept. 11, 2001 should always be remembered for the innocents who lost their lives, for the firefighters who risked their lives, lost their lives, and have suffered health ramifications due to the “evils” that occurred on 9/11.

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Chief Hyser later said, “I hope I didn’t come on too strong,” but that he believed that people were forgetting a day in America’s history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

He will always remember as so many others will always remember where they were when the towers were hit, when they went down, and what happened in their own lives that day.

“I remember a lady stopped [at the fire station] with a little kid who was about two or three and he ran up and hugged my legs and said ‘I love you’ and ran off,” Chief Hyser said.

After the ceremonial speeches, two firefighters lowered the flag atop of the fire station and folded it, to make way for the raising of the flag that was flown over Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks. Chief Hyser indicated that they fly that flag every year on Sept. 11.

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As the flag ceremony commenced, Steve Anderson played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

Once the ceremony ended, the 5th graders from Lincoln Elementary gathered around the firefighters and handed them all thank you cards and hugged the men for their service.

As the children said their goodbyes to the firefighters the people gathered around to enjoy a nice brunch at the fire station at 10:30 a.m.

Even though Sept. 11 will always be a reminder of such a dreadful day in American history, the day also comes as a sign of strength where communities, like Belvidere, can come together to show that America can still stand tall, and that no one should ever forget what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.


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