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US Cities Remember September 11 Attacks - 2002-09-11

Communities throughout the United States held ceremonies Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Many cities and towns also have built or are planning more lasting monuments to commemorate the tragedy.

In the Chicago suburb of Naperville, a crowd of a few hundred people listened to a high school band play patriotic tunes, and watched as ground was broken for the city's September 11 memorial. It will honor all of those killed in the attacks, including Navy Commander Dan Shanower, a Naperville native killed when a hijacked plane struck the Pentagon in Washington.

The memorial will be set among a grove of trees by a small river that winds through the city center. It will incorporate a steel beam from the World Trade Center in New York and several blocks of stone from the damaged section of the Pentagon.

Commander Shanower's brother Jon says the memorial will be a place of reflection, and much more. "We want to move out of our grief by teaching schoolchildren and our community the values for which people like my brother gave their lives," he said.

Naperville is far from the only community in the United States planning permanent September 11 memorials. At Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, history teacher Ken Senter has led the effort for a memorial, which will also include steel from the World Trade Center.

"In Tennessee, we are pretty removed from the event and I just wanted to maintain that taste of horror for a moment. I want to maintain that as a stimulus to advance our civilization, to pursue excellence, to keep our security and our freedom strong," explained Mr. Senter.

Many cities and towns across the country are using Trade Center steel in their memorials. Among them, Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a historic Catholic church is using several steel beams to rebuild its bell tower.

Other communities are planing memorial groves of trees to remember September 11.

"Everybody still grieves and feels terrible about the things that happened that day," says Jodi Hooks, a spokeswoman for Iowa-based Alliant Energy, which is sponsoring memorial groves in several Midwestern states. "We want to show support and do something and be able to say, 'This is where you can go to remember those people and think about that day and how it has affected your life.'"

In St. Louis, people have dedicated a memorial orchard of apple trees and berry bushes. The fruit harvested from the grove each year will be given to local food pantries for low-income families.

Back at Naperville's ceremony, local native Joe Dittmar, who was working in the World Trade Center's South Tower when it was struck last September, says he is not surprised to see so many communities far from New York and Washington building September 11 memorials.

"Everybody needs to feel connected, wants to feel connected," he said. "The fact of the matter is, by being American, you were connected. By being a member of the world, you are connected. This was an attack against the world. There is no doubt about it."

Naperville officials say their memorial will be dedicated next September 11.