• Megann Horstead

A night of remembrance, recognition after infamous tragedy


For some, it was a day of healing to honor the lives of those cut short. For others, it was a day that serves as a painful reminder that more support is necessary.

The Founders Club hosted its 9/11 Family Night, an annual ceremony commemorating the 14th anniversary of the tragedy that took place Sept. 11, 2001, joining residents of Homer Glen and surrounding communities on Sept. 11, with local and state officials, at Konow’s Farm, at 16849 S. Cedar Rd. in Homer Glen.

Last weekend’s ceremony was just one of many commemorations taking place across the country.

Samantha Neitzke, president of Homer Founders Club, said it was “really nice” to see the community’s effort year after year to remember the lives of those most affected by the tragedy.

“It’s very easy to forget but seeing the community come together, it’s nice to know that we will never forget what happened,” she said.

Dave Palya, a resident of Joliet, was in attendance with his family in an effort to commemorate what happened to his country on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was a way of saying thank you,” he said, emphasizing that it’s nice to see the community come together to make sure that no one is forgotten.

Stephen Balich, a Will County board member, doesn’t feel enough support has been provided to those affected most by the tragedy, leaving him compelled to attend the ceremony.

“Sometimes under the current leadership, you think patriotism is lost,” he said, noting that the event is hoped to provide a source of relief for the people.

A silence was observed within the first three minutes of the evening when Ben Braun, a Will County courthouse judge, led a prayer for those affected most by the devastation that occurred on Sept. 11. A memorial video was soon displayed where a number of images from the tragedy were shown.

Shortly thereafter, James Capparelli, the evening’s guest speaker and a retired U.S. army colonel, shared details from his military experience while serving in Guantanamo Bay between 2012 and 2013, where he said terrorist activity was known to be present.

“We need to leverage all our technological advances whenever possible to ensure the safety of the U.S. and allied forces,” he said, noting that it’s unfortunate that we’ve been dealing with terrorists both at home and abroad.

Neitzke said in the end she hopes the event places a focus on the victims while bringing people together.

She added that while Founders Club is a non-partisan group known for serving the people through political forums, 9/11 Family Night shows the community there’s more to the organization than politics.

On average, the ceremony sees 200 people in attendance. Neitzke said despite the rain showers that occurred in the hours leading up to last weekend’s ceremony, she was pleased to see the crowd in attendance for 9/11 Family Night.

The event was sponsored by organizations, such as State Farm, Meijer’s and Advanced Auto Parts, among others.

If unable to attend 9/11 Family Night and interested in getting involved, the Homer Founders Club holds monthly meetings. Those interested in learning more can email Samantha Neitzke at misspawfect@aol.com

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