The September 11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois in Belleville on Monday was the site of a solemn moment of remembrance ceremony, commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The event commenced after a performance of the national anthem by vocalist and retired technical sergeant Keisha L. Gwynn. Speakers ranged from first responders to city leaders, who spoke at the plaza near the end of the memorial walkway, which features plaques detailing the timeline of Sept. 11, 2001, under twisted beams salvaged from the site of the attack.
Belleville Mayor Patty Gregory gave a community-focused speech after an introduction by master of ceremony and chairman of the September 11th Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois Sharon Strausbaugh.
“When we put aside, even for a little bit, all of those things that divide us, and come together in kindness, giving grace and service to everyone, especially our most vulnerable neighbors, we honor the memories of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
The city’s top first responders took the podium next to offer patriotic remembrances and pay tribute to the fallen.
“I believe that most Americans wanted to help that day, and in the days that followed,” said Stephanie Mills, Belleville’s fire chief as of Aug. 21. “The memories of 9/11 have been with me my whole career.”
“We call on the memory of and the events that followed 9/11 to remember that we live in the greatest nation on earth,” said assistant police chief Mark Heffernan “and despite our individual differences, we are united in resolve.”
Master Sgt. Amos Reed, who serves as the first sergeant for the 932nd Medical Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, said that soon there will be a generation that has no living memory of 9/11 and emphasized the importance of keeping memories alive.
“The spirit of unity that we embraced on September 12th must continue as we forge to face the opportunities before us today,” Reed said. “First and foremost, we must honor the memory of those who perished. Each victim had dreams, families.”