Editor's note: If you have an event scheduled to commemorate 9/11 that isn't on this list, please add it in the comments section below:
URBANA —The Rev. John Sims says the time he spent serving as a disaster chaplain for the families and friends of the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York changed his life forever.
"It has made me a better person, and it made me care more about people," said Sims, currently the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Urbana.
Sims will be the featured speaker at the 10-year anniversary 9/11 memorial ceremony at 2 p.m. Sept. 11 in front of the Champaign County Courthouse, 101 E. Main St., U.
Urbana Fire Chief Mike Dilley said the program will include the presentation of the colors by an honor guard and a performance of the national anthem, followed by a talk by Sims.
"We made a statement on Sept. 11, 2001, that we would never forget that day when 343 innocent firefighters lost their lives and numerous police officers and other citizens lost their lives," Dilley said. "This is our way not to forget."
When Sims arrived at ground zero a few days after the attack, he said, the site was largely gray with the exception of the red, white and blue American flag erected by New York City firefighters.
"As I stood there, I saw a bulldozer hit something, and a column of smoke shot up 40 feet in the air," he said. "I was thinking the place was still bleeding."
Sims said he provided counseling to first responders, survivors and the families of victims.
He said personnel from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Emergency Management Agency handed out teddy bears at ground zero to anybody who needed them.
"I thought I was going to be real strong and not take a teddy bear, but I finally reached out and grabbed one for myself," Sims said. "I still have it."
Other memorial events planned include:
University of Illinois
On Sept. 11, the Altgeld Hall chimes will toll for two minutes at 7:46 a.m., 8:03 a.m., 8:43 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. — the times when two airliners struck the World Trade Center, a third airliner struck the Pentagon and a fourth plane went down in Pennsylvania.
Chimesplayer Michael Gaschler will be performing the two-minute tolls, followed after a few minutes by a 10-minute music concert, according to Sue Wood, chimesmaster at the University of Illinois.
The hall is located at 1409 W. Green St., U.
Sirens and bells
The Champaign County Emergency Management Agency and the Champaign County Board are encouraging all fire departments, police departments, churches and houses of worship to sound sirens and ring bells for one minute at noon Sept. 11.
Champaign County EMA Deputy Director John M. Dwyer said those ringing bells and sounding sirens will be joining others across the nation in the observance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Dwyer said the observance is a way to honor those people those lives were lost.
Lincoln's Challenge Academy, 205 W. Dodge Ave., Rantoul, will host a 9/11 program at 10 a.m. Sept. 10 at the academy's gymnasium.
Bradley P. Gould, state assistant adjutant for the Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars, will be the keynote speaker.
Rantoul Police Chief Paul Farber and Champaign County sheriff's deputy Rich Ferriman will take part in a candle-lighting ceremony during the program.
For more information, call the academy at 892-1314.
A presentation on "Phoenix Park: Embracing Life After 9/11" will be held Friday (Sept. 9) from 11 to 11:30 a.m. in Parkland College's Flag Lounge.
The featured speaker will be Parkland professor Kaizad Irani, who was on the team that designed the park at the site, located in the shadow of ground zero.
His team won a competition in 2003 to design the park, which is not yet finished.
Irani's presentation at Parkland will include images showing the process of designing the park, winning the competition and preparing for installation.
UI School of Music observance
The University of Illinois School of Music will observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by presenting a brief concert on Sunday morning at Smith Memorial Hall, 805 S. Mathews Ave., U, on campus.
The UI Black Chorus, directed by voice Professor Ollie Watts Davis, will perform. The concert will begin at 7:46 a.m. to coincide with the time the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center in New York City. As is tradition with the annual concert, music — rather than speeches — will be the sole focus.
The concert, free and open to the public, will take place in the recital hall at Smith.
Tribute to Everyday Heroes
Police, firefighters, National Guardsmen and Army Reserves will join area residents to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at Tribute to Everyday Heroes with the dedication of a wall of valor at 3 p.m. Sept. 11 at Sunset Memorial Park, 3901 N. Vermilion St., Danville.
"We had a memorial service at the one-year anniversary of 911 and dedicated a portion of our cemetery to everyday heroes," said Sunset Director of Family Services Pam Starkey. "This year we are dedicating another part of the cemetery as a wall of valor specifically honoring five local soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan."
Starkey said the images of Francis Trussel Jr. of Vermilion County, Jeffrey Wallace of Hoopeston, Justin Penrod of Danville, David Audo of St. Joseph and Kenneth Nichols II of Chrisman will be captured in bronze and affixed to the wall.
Starkey said personnel from the Vermilion County Sheriff's Department, Danville Police Department, Danville Fire Department, the Patriot Guard, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves will participate in the ceremony, with Danville Director of Public Safety Larry Thomason serving as the featured speaker.
"The purpose of this event is to renew our commitment to freedom and the values of our country and honoring our everyday heroes, both past and present," Starkey said.
"Celebrate America" is the theme of a patriotic program set for 6 p.m. Sept. 10 at the David S. Palmer Arena, 100 West Main Street, Danville, sponsored by the Second Church of Christ in Danville.
"We want to remember the events of Sept. 11, and we all have images of that day burned in our minds," said pastor Drew Mentzer. "Our purpose is to encourage and thank those who currently serve in the military, those who have previously served in the military, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians."
Mentzer said the names of some 3,000 people who died in the events of Sept. 11, 2001, will be available for people to read, and a light show and video with highlight the timeline of the crashes at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.
Organizers will ask former and military personnel, policemen and women, firefighters and emergency medical technicians— who are encouraged to appear in uniform— to stand and be recognized for their service.
Members of the Danville Police Department, American Legion Post 410, and Danville Elks Lodge 332 will present the colors, and songs will be performed by the Redcoats and Radiant Reds show choirs from North Ridge Middle School and the Second Church of Christ Celebration Choir.
"In spite of all our difficulties, there is still much to celebrate about this great land," Mentzer said. "Celebrate America will be an exciting evening filled with themes of patriotism, inspiration, celebration, hope and God and country woven throughout the music, media, and message."
9/11 memorial ride
Motorcycles and other vehicles will take part in a 9/11 memorial ride through Vermilion, Champaign and Ford counties on Sept. 11, according to Dan Hudson, of the I&I Firefighters Association.
Registration for the ride begins at 8 a.m. at McDonald's, 3195 North Vermilion St., with the ride starting at 10 a.m.
After leaving Danville, the riders will tour Tilton, Catlin, Westville, Georgetown, Indianola, Sidell and Allerton before stopping at the Homer fire station.
Then the riders will drive through Ogden, St. Joseph, Urbana, Thomasboro and Rantoul prior to a stop at the Paxton fire station for lunch provided by Paxton firefighters.
From there, the riders will tour Rankin, Hoopeston and Rossville before concluding their trip in Danville.
Hudson said money from a suggested $10 per person donation will go to a fallen firefighters account for families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and for firefighters who are hurt or ill.
For more information, call 474-5177.
9/11 heroes run
Runners and walkers will also have an opportunity to commemorate the anniversary.
Soldiers From Above, an organization that says it helps homeless veterans, is holding a 5K run and one-mile family fun run and walk at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at Winter Park, 900 E. Winter Ave., Danville. Registration starts at 5 p.m. The entry fee is $25 for the 5K race and $15 for the fun run and walk.
For more information, call 708-369-6436.