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Sept. 11 marked locally with parade, ceremonies

Vehicles from several fire departments from DeKalb county make their way east on Lincoln Highway in DeKalb Sunday during a silent parade honoring fallen emergency workers. Chronicle photo HOLLY LUNDH
Vehicles from several fire departments from DeKalb county make their way east on Lincoln Highway in DeKalb Sunday during a silent parade honoring fallen emergency workers. Chronicle photo HOLLY LUNDH

Local fire departments marked the five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with a somber, siren-free parade around DeKalb County on Sunday. Fire engines and other emergency vehicles followed a 109-mile route that started at the Convo-cation Center in DeKalb at around 11 a.m. and ended there five hours later. By the end, firefighters had made their way through nearly every community in the county. &#8220We pretty much get full participation from all the county departments,” DeKalb Fire Capt. Joe Jones said. As the procession made its way back to the Convocation Center along Lincoln Highway, fire and rescue vehicles from DeKalb, Malta, Shabbona, Leland, Maple Park and Sycamore could be seen. At the Convocation Center, Christine Monteiro, a Sycamore native and 12-year resident of Water-man, helped open a remembrance ceremony by singing &#8220The Star Spangled Banner.” Rev. Arra M. Garab, DeKalb Fire Department chaplain, recited the invocation, &#8220A Firefighter's Prayer.” State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, made the keynote address shortly after the prayer ended. &#8220How quickly time passes and how quickly, for many people, lives resume some normal patterns,” he said. &#8220And they don't stop to think about the work that you firefighters do each day. They don't stop to think about the challenges and the tragedy that occurred just five years ago.” A traditional firefighter's bell ceremony followed Pritchard's speech. Bells hold special significance in the firefighting profession. &#8220Firefighters live and die, literally, by the bell,” DeKalb Fire Chief Lanny Russell said. &#8220The bell is symbolic, and it starts our day. It ends our day, it signals alarms, but it also signals coming home from alarms.” Bell ceremonies are most common at the ends of firefighters' funerals. &#8220It talks about the bell being part of our lives and now our fallen brother has answered the last alarm and is safely home,” Russell said. With the bell tolling completed, DeKalb Fire Lt. Tom Murphy offered a bagpipe rendition of &#8220Amazing Grace.” Murphy is one of three bagpipers in the DeKalb department. Bagpipes came over with Irish and Scottish immigrants, many of whom took up positions as public servants in police or fire departments, Murphy said. Those immigrants kept their traditions with them as they took on these jobs, he said. One of those traditions were bagpipes. Music dotted the ceremony from beginning to end. Monteiro treated the crowd to her own altered version of &#8220Another Soldier's Coming Home.” She substituted &#8220hero” for soldier in reference to firefighters and other emergency workers. After the DeKalb Fire Department Honor Guard laid a wreath adorned with red, white and blue flowers, Garab handled the closing prayer. He kept it short and simple. &#8220Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” he said. - Andy McMurray, contributing writer

Bells toll at the DeKalb Fire Station A small but reverent crowd gathered at DeKalb's Fire Station No. 1 this morning to honor the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. Nine spectators, most wearing city of DeKalb identification badges, gathered with on-duty firefighters and two DeKalb police officers for a remembrance ceremony. The rainy weather drove the group inside the station garage, which gave the tolling of a silver bell and a bugler playing &#8220Taps” haunting echoes. Fire Chief Lanny Russell opened the ceremony at 8:58 a.m., the time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York five years ago. The event opened with a moment of silence, broken by a passing train, then the tolling of the bell, which seemed to jar some attendees out of their reverie. Russell called the events of Sept. 11 &#8220a defining moment of our lives.” &#8220We'll always remember where we were and what we were doing when that moment arrived,” he said. &#8220It changed many of our lives.” DeKalb Fire Lt. Tom Murphy said the 9/11 observance was just one of several events in the community honoring public safety personnel, including a countywide silent parade held Sunday. &#8220We were doing that before 9/11 to remember all fire and police personnel who had passed away in the past year,” he said. &#8220And we've always had a memorial service for all city of DeKalb employees who passed away in the past year. We used to do that on Memorial Day, but after that tragedy on 9/11, now we do it at the end of September.” In his speech, Russell called on people to not only remember those who died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but also those who spent days digging through rubble to rescue survivors. &#8220We pray for those rescuers who are suffering health problems today because of what they did on Sept. 11,” he said. &#8220And we pray that this sort of event will become only history, we will never again see such a tragedy, and we pray we will have peace not only in our country but around the world.” After a benediction by the department chaplain, a bagpiper stepped into the rain in front of the station to play &#8220Amazing Grace.” The few spectators dispersed quickly. &#8220This is just our way of remembering what happened that day,” Murphy said. - Dana Herra, staff writer

Waterman students participate in Patriot Day The students at Waterman Elementary School sang &#8220God Bless America” to show their patriotism this morning. The students, from kindergarten through the fifth grade, gathered at an all-school assembly in the school cafeteria to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Some of the students at the assembly were babies when the attacks occurred. Principal Steve Simpson talked about the police and firefighters who raced to save the lives of the people at the World Trade Center, but who died when the buildings &#8220collapsed like deadly accordions.” President Bush in December 2001 signed legislation designating Sept. 11 Patriot Day in memory of those who died in the attacks. Policemen, firefighters and elected officials were invited to the school to talk to students about Patriot Day. &#8220Patriotism is pride for our country and what it stands for,” Simpson said. Waterman Police Chief Charles Breese told the students that police and firefighters in Waterman also put themselves in danger every day, but they do it because it is their job. &#8220The men and women who were going to help would want us to remember the victims and their commitment,” he said. State Sen. Brad Burzynski, R-Clare, told the students he wore a lapel pin of the Statue of Liberty and one of the Twin Towers to help him remember. Waterman Fire Lt. Nancy Lange read a poem called &#8220A Fallen Firefighter's Prayer” before a firefighter's bell ceremony. Waterman Fire Lt. Dave Lave talked about firefighter's traditions. One of the traditions is to ring a bell to signify the beginning of the day's shift. If the bell rings three times, then three times again, and then three times once more, it means it is the end of duty. It is called a last alarm and traditionally occurs to announce that a firefighter has died in the line of duty. Lave rang the bell to signify a last alarm and students returned quietly to their classrooms. - Aracely Hernandez, staff writer

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