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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Sept. 11 survivor presents Naperville’s 21st annual remembrance


Above / Ryan Yantis, Lt. Col., U.S. Army (Retired), center, recently met with Exchange Club members Emy Trotz and Marty Walker at the Cmdr. Dan Shanower Sept. 11 Memorial. Yantis, a Pentagon Sept. 11 Survivor who contributed to “9/11 Survivors’ Stories – Midwest Memories,” is slated to be the keynote speaker at the Sept. 11 Observance. (PN Photo)

Update, Sept. 11, 2022 / Note photos at end of post reflect “Naperville Honors,” a remembrance held inside due to rain.

The community is invited to the annual September 11 Observance at the Cmdr. Dan Shanower Sept. 11 Memorial beginning with music at 10:30AM Sun., Sept. 11, 2022.

The remembrance, including patriotic music performed by the Naperville Municipal Band as well as the Young Naperville Singers along with Naperville Firefighters Highland Guard pipes and drums, is set to honor nearly 3,000 individuals killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and aboard Flights 11, 77, 175 and 93.

Organized by the Exchange Club of Naperville Americanism Committee, the observance will be held at Naperville’s Sept. 11 Memorial, a tribute to Navy Commander Dan Shanower, the Naperville native who was killed while serving at the Pentagon on the fateful day in 2001.

“Of the nearly 3,000 killed, 343 were firefighters and 60 were police officers,” added Exchange Club member Marty Walker, a retired firefighter, who has been coordinating the remembrance for a decade with ongoing assistance from Emy Trotz and Dawn Portner. 

Walker considers it a high honor to help bring the community together.

“Twenty-one years ago we as a nation took a vow to never forget,” Walker said. “I am deeply grateful that Mayor Chirico and the community intend to keep that promise.”

From across the DuPage River, hundreds of individuals watched the Sept. 11 Observance organized by Marty Walker (at the podium) for the Exchange Club of Naperville. (PN Photo 2021)

The Cmdr. Dan Shanower Sept. 11 Memorial on the Century Walk tour was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2003. Nineteen years later, the memorial with its “Lean on US” sculpture, Wall of Faces, “Freedom Isn’t Free” message and Eternal Flame attracts visitors every day to pause, reflect and never forget. 

2022 Keynote speaker is survivor of 9/11 Pentagon Attack 

Ryan Yantis, Lt. Col., U.S. Army (Retired)

This year’s keynote speaker will be Ryan Yantis, Lt. Col., U.S. Army (Retired), a survivor of the 9/11 Pentagon Attack who was decorated for his actions on that tragic day. Yantis will present his personal account of leadership, providence and overcoming challenges. 

His military service spanned more than 22 years in more than 33 countries; plus New York City, the Pentagon, and Chicago, where he left active duty in 2006. Yantis also collaborated with other survivors to write 9/11 Survivors’ Stories Midwest Memories, published in 2021. All proceeds from the book benefit American Pride Inc., a nonprofit of World Trade Center and Pentagon 9/11 Attack Survivors that Yantis co-founded after that fateful day.

A writer, coach, and public speaker, Yantis now lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois, with his wife, Sharon. They have three adult children and two bully-breed rescue dogs.

Music begins at 10:30AM / Remembrance starts at 10:45AM

Music will begin at 10:30AM, performed by the Naperville Municipal Band in the Riverwalk Amphitheater across the DuPage River from the Sept. 11 Memorial.

The remembrance ceremony will begin at 10:45AM. (Kindly note the time has been moved back since first announced. Note also, in the case of rain, the observance will be held in Council Chambers, inside the Naperville Municipal Center.)

The Young Naperville Singers will perform “This Land Is Your Land.” 

The tribute will begin with the combined Color Guard from the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 and the American Legion Post 43 as well as Naperville Fire and Police Departments. The combined Honor Guard also will participate.

A prayer by the Chaplin of the Naperville Fire Department will be followed by remarks Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis and Police Chief Jason Arres.

Walker said the Shanower family will be represented by Stephanie Shanower and Rachel Wike, Dan Shanower’s nieces.

The Sept. 11 Committee recently was honored to meet Yantis when they were reminded about “split-second decisions, luck and providence” that made a difference in survival on that horrific day 21 years ago. 

Yantis used a phrase that he’s a “living artifact telling the story.” 

The City’s observance provides an opportunity to reflect on and remember this significant moment in history with appreciation for First Responders and the U.S. Military that protect this nation every day.

PN File Photo / Twin beams of light illuminated the Cmdr. Dan Shanower September 11 Memorial along the Naperville Riverwalk in 2011. The poignant message every day is that “FREEDOM ISN’T FREE.” (Photo by James Hoch Photography)

The Cmdr. Dan Shanower Sept. 11 Memorial is located along the Riverwalk behind the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle Street. —PN

Naperville Honors / Sept. 11, 2022

Naperville Honors, a Sept. 11 remembrance, began with a musical prelude performed by the Naperville Municipal Band under the leadership of Conductor Ron Keller.
Due to rainy weather, the 2022 Sept. 11 remembrance was moved inside the Naperville Municipal Building, packing Council Chambers.
An ensemble of Young Naperville Singers performed “The National Anthem” and “This Land Is Your Land.” The final selection, “God Bless America,” was accompanied by the Naperville Municipal Band with a sing-along by the ensemble and the audience.
Featured speaker Ryan Yantis provided his personal account of servant leadership and overcoming challenges in the face of danger to fight for freedom. In a light-hearted moment of gratitude to Marty Walker for inviting him back to speak in Naperville, Yantis quipped that he’d told Marty, “…I’d be brief, be brilliant and then be seated.”
On behalf of the Shanower family, Stephanie Shanower and Rachel Rowe joined Naperville Firefighter of the Year John Sergeant and Naperville Police Officer of the Year Ken Czubak to present the “Freedom Is Not Free” Wreath while the Firefighter Highland Guard of Naperville performed “Amazing Grace.”
Exchange Club of Naperville member Dawn Portner, front, Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis, Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres, Mayor Steve Chirico and Exchange Club member Emy Trotz contributed significant thoughts to the one-hour program. “By gathering, we honor those we lost and seek to rekindle the resolve we felt as a community and as a nation in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001,” said Mayor Chirico. “Let us never forget.”
The wreath laying was to honor Cdr. Dan Shanower, a Naperville native who was killed at his post in the Pentagon, and the other 3,000 casualties of the terrorist attacks.

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