Lifting the shroud; Thousands come to mourn loss, see memorial unveiled
September 12, 2003 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Kathy Millen
Wearing a cap with the initials NYPD and a shirt emblazoned with the words "United We Stand Proud," James Behymer stood in the line of people inching its way toward the Cmdr. Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 Memorial.
He and his wife, Ashley, and their two young sons drove from their home in Berwyn to attend Thursday's dedication of the memorial on the north side of the Municipal Center along the Riverwalk. Pushing one of the boys in a stroller, James waited to get a better look at the just unveiled Wall of Faces that borders the memorial and the 11-foot sculpture that is its centerpiece.
Like Shanower, who was working in his office at the Pentagon when he was killed Sept. 11, 2001, three of Behymer's friends perished in the attack. But his reason for coming to the memorial was not only to mourn the loss of the more than 3,000 people who died, but to celebrate life.
"My son was born on this day two years ago," said Behymer, a U.S. Air Force veteran. "We wanted to celebrate his birthday and show that not everything was bad on that day. Good things did come that day."
A crowd of 5,000 people, according to Naperville Police Department estimates, straddled both sides of the DuPage River to pay homage to Shanower and the more than 3,000 other people who were killed in the terrorist attacks. Those in attendance included members of Shanower's family, his friends, political and military dignitaries, police and firefighters, Sept. 11 survivors and family members of victims.
Chuck Johanns, co-chairman of the commission that raised the money to build the $285,000 memorial, emceed the program, which included musical performances by the Naperville Municipal Band and the Naperville Men's Glee Club.
Former U.S. Rep. Harris Fawell, who lead the commission's fund-raising efforts, spoke of Shanower's love of life.
"Dan Shanower represents the very best of Naperville and the best of the military," he said. "And sadly but proudly today, he represents all of those who perished because of the terrorist attacks of 9-11. His young life and its many accomplishments offer much for us all to celebrate."
Shanower's mother, Pat, said the memorial is yet another way the community has shown its support for her family during this difficult time.
"This place represents pain but also triumph and celebration," she said. "Today is a celebration of things our son believed in, first of all, in freedom."
That love of freedom is etched in a plaque bearing the words from an essay Shanower wrote, titled "Freedom Isn't Free." It is but one part of the memorial, which also includes a flagpole, a landscaped garden and an eternal flame. Mayor George Pradel, who lighted the flame, called Shanower a hero who gave his life "while trying to protect us against the worst of enemies."
Rear Adm. Richard Porterfield, Shanower's commanding officer, agreed, saying Shanower made a huge contribution in the fight against terrorism.
"He is no longer here but his legacy is living. His legacy and the people that he touched and what we are trying to do in the war against terrorism around the world."
The victims of terrorism are represented in the backdrop of the memorial -- a 48-foot Wall of Faces bearing the images of 140 faces molded by local artists from drawings done by Naperville schoolchildren. The faces represent the people who died in the attacks.
The centerpiece of the memorial is an 11-foot-tall sculpture by Michigan artist Bill Cooper. He incorporated relics from the attacks, including a steel beam from the World Trade Center and rubble from the Pentagon, into his design. The granite used to make the base was mined in the Pennsylvania region where Flight 93 went down.
The memorial was unveiled by family members of Sept. 11 victims along with Brand Bobosky, chairman of the Naperville Century Walk public arts commission, which provided funding for the artwork.
Joe Dittmar of Aurora, a survivor of the World Trade Center attacks, told the crowd to never forget what happened that day.
"We are the true memorials to Dan Shanower and all the victims of Sept. 11," he said. "It is an awesome responsibility yet a wonderful privilege."
Bob Talle of the U.S. Coast Guard stands at attention next to the partially covered Wall of Faces during the dedication of the Cmdr. Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 Memorial. The memorial commemorates Dan Shanower, a Naperville native, and the more than 3,000 other victims of the terrorist attacks.
Hundreds of people lined the north bank of the DuPage River along the Riverwalk to view the dedication of the Cmdr. Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 Memorial. The nearly two-year project was spearheaded by Naperville residents.