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Carpe Weekend: To 9/11 and back

The 9/11 terrorist attacks forever changed New York skyline.  |  AP file photo

The 9/11 terrorist attacks forever changed the New York skyline. | AP file photo

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Updated: November 4, 2011 7:38PM

Like the majority of Americans, I wasn’t in New York City 10 years ago when the Twin Towers fell.

I wasn’t there to feel the earth tremble under my feet as the buildings came crashing down, and I didn’t have to run frantically from the thick cloud of soot that chased people down the street immediately following.

I was in relative safety — nearly 800 miles to the west — assessing body damage on vehicles up for sale at Greater Chicago Auto Auction’s old Cal-Sag lot.

The weather outside was gorgeous and, aside from the sporadic shuffle of traffic along Cicero Avenue, it was relatively quiet.

I was surrounded by a serenity vastly removed from the chaos unfolding in New York’s Lower Manhattan area.

Yet, as my coworkers and I watched the towers fall on a TV set my boss had quickly set up in his office, I still felt scared and vulnerable. I was absolutely livid. I couldn’t stop shaking.

My emotions didn’t seem to care that I was hundreds of miles away from danger. My body was in Midlothian, but my heart was in New York City.

The whole experience truly was awful.

Born from that despair and helplessness, though, was a wonderful feeling.

Before that day, patriotism for me was just a word without context. I’d read about it, studied it, believed wholeheartedly in it, but I didn’t know what it was. Not really. Not until Sept. 11, 2001.

On that day and the ones that followed, all of the pointless, meaningless garbage that normally divides America melted away.

We all were a family living under a common flag and holding the same love for the ground beneath our feet.

I think each of us had a little more respect for one another, too, and a sense that democracy wasn’t just an abstract word in a history book but a precious and fragile truth.

Sadly, those feelings eventually faded away. Americans returned to juvenile finger-pointing, poisonous partisan politics. For all but a select few, patriotism and democracy became just words again.

It was absolutely tragic what happened to our country that day. But every negative experience, even 9-11, has a lesson to be gleaned from it.

For me, it was the knowledge that Americans have the ability to put aside stupidity and unite when the need arises.

Now, I know it can happen.

Even though I wasn’t there, I was there.

Memorial service

The Blue Island community will gather at 5 p.m. Sept. 11 at Christ Memorial Church, 2440 York St., Blue Island, to pray and to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Clergy and choirs from a number of Blue Island congregations will participate. The event also will feature an appearance by actress Caroline Sexton and actor Tony Carsella, of Stray Dog Theatre Group.

The pair will perform excerpts from “The Guys,” which is about the heroism of the New York Fire Department at the World Trade Center.

Light refreshments will be served.

Information: Dan Carroll, (708) 388-1078, Ext. 30.

World War II Days

The Lockport Township Park District will host World War II Days at 10 a.m. Sept. 10 and 11 at Dellwood Park, Illinois 171 and Woods Drive, Lockport.

The event will feature a World War II-era reenactment with uniformed reenactors representing soldiers from the United States, England, France, Poland, Russia, Italy and Germany, along with vintage 1940s-era military vehicles.

Other events will include displays of uniforms, equipment and weapons demonstrations, a tribute to 9/11, a United Service Organizations show featuring an orchestra, WWII memorabilia, food and snacks for sale, and vintage aircraft flyovers.

Information: (815) 838-3621, Ext. 0.

Ceremony of Remembrance

The village of Midlothian will host a candlelight Ceremony of Remembrance to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and memorialize those who lost their lives at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the village green, 147th Street and Springfield Avenue.

A piece of steel beam from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers will be the centerpiece of the memorial.

The beam will be on display and will be permanently mounted at the village green.

Information: Karen Kreis, (708) 687-7393 or Jerome Gillis Jr., (708) 351-7717.

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