Memorials in bi-state region commemorate 9/11

BETHALTO, IL (KPLR) – Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. Two communities in southwest Illinois are putting together special displays to commemorate the day.

For the third year in a row, students at Civic Memorial High School put together a 9/11 memorial ceremony, featuring 2,977 flags representing all those who died during the attacks.

Many of the kids also researched individual lives lost that day and as part of the display, prepared one-sheet versions of those life stories.

"The kids really dig in and get to know what happened," said teacher Angela Parish, who has directed the project since its inception. "They weren't born, they were one or two years old at the time, so it brings it home to them."

Junior Sierra Nolte has worked on the project all three years.

"You really don`t understand how many lives have been taken but with all the papers and all the flags you get a sense of reality of how big it really is and you get the emotions involved with it," she said.

The ceremony was held Thursday evening.

Meanwhile in Belleville, preparations are underway for a 9/11 ceremony on Sunday, which will include the dedication of a new monument featuring a twisted beam from the World Trade Center. Ironworkers installed the beam on Thursday atop two concrete pillars meant to represent the twin towers.

"To see it finally come to phase one at least, to get the beam up, is pretty rewarding," said Tim Gregowicz, Belleville's City Engineer.

Funds were raised privately to pay for the memorial, which sits outside the Belleville Fire Department headquarters building.

"We are very proud to have this here to be a living memorial to those who died that day," said Fire Chief Tom Pour.

The Belleville ceremony begins Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Organizers are hoping to stage a march featuring 343 firefighters in uniform to represent the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11. Volunteers are asked to report to the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds at 1:00 to participate in that march.