Champaign County memorial urges residents to remember 9/11

From the 30-foot flag hanging from two fire engine ladders to those printed on community members’ shirts, many American flags were flying at Sunday’s 9/11 memorial ceremony outside the Champaign County Courthouse. The most original one, though, may have been Shirley Maryan’s and daughter Ashley’s, both from Champaign.

On it were the names of all the victims of the terrorist attacks that struck New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania ten years ago. It was a lucky find for Shirley, who found it hidden inside a Walmart.

“I had to have it,” she said. “They had it in a spot where most people wouldn’t have seen it. But I found it, and I also called the store to ask to put it in a place where other customers could see it.”

The Maryans were among several area residents in attendance remembering where they were that September day and paying their respects. The Champaign and Urbana fire and police departments, city officials and other organizations were also on hand outside the Urbana courthouse to honor the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“Many of you might remember where you were on that day,” said Urbana Fire Department Chief Mike Dilley to the hundreds in attendance.

Dilley urged the crowd to never forget the events of that Tuesday morning.

Beth Mills, of St. Joseph, said she was feeding her one-month-old triplets that morning when she saw United Flight 175 hit the south tower of the World Trade Center on television.

Her husband John, a lieutenant with the Champaign Fire Department, got back home from duty that morning when he received a call from his dad that something bad was happening on the East Coast. He said the events changed his role as an American and a firefighter forever.

“I already felt a sense of duty and everything,” Mills said. “It was such a huge event for those in the fire service in general because of the sheer number of all those who died. It was like losing the fire departments in Champaign, Urbana, Danville and Decatur all at once.”

A few members of the Champaign and Urbana fire departments gave speeches Sunday. Other events on the program included the singing of the national anthem and the closing of the ceremony to the song ‘Amazing Grace’ on the bagpipes.