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Joliet ceremony pays tribute to lives lost in Sept. 11 attacks

There was a moment of silence observed, and a motorcycle procession was underway Tuesday at Joliet Junior College.

Beneath the alumni bell tower, a performer sang for those who gathered to commemorate 9/11.

On this day, 17 years ago, the nation was the target of attacks by a terrorist group taking aim at the U.S. On Tuesday, it was the scene of a commemorative ceremony to remember the tragedy, which led to the loss of thousands of lives.

JJC’s ceremony also aimed to promote unity between first responders and the community.

Joliet Junior College Police, the Office of Student Activities, and the Environmental Health and Safety Department put on Tuesday’s program.

Pete Comanda, like many people across the nation, felt shaken by the tragedy, which was replayed in the news media over and over again after Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was an event that brought this nation to a virtual standstill for nearly a week,” said Comanda, chief of police for JJC.

Stickney resident Dave Hume said he is proud of the college and its continued effort to commemorate 9/11.

“The ceremony was appropriate and dignified,” the Stickney resident said after the ceremony. “I’m sure it was well-received. The sad thing is that half the students were too young when the tragedy struck. It is good we have such events to remember those we’ve lost.”

Hume is a member of the Illinois Patriot Guard, a nonprofit organization that aims to ensure dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans.

During the ceremony, he joined members of the group in a motorcycle procession to get the program started.

The commemoration also featured a flag-raising and lowering ceremony, 21-gun salute, taps and recognition of veterans.

Comanda acknowledged that not everyone in attendance for the ceremony will be able to remember 9/11 as vividly as others might and said the events that occurred that day were catastrophic.

“Not only must we remember those who died, but we must never forget those who did the killing,” Comanda said. “Those are the reasons why we hold this ceremony every year.”

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