Shoulder to shoulder, with heads bowed, thousands stood quietly at Chicago's citywide memorial service Wednesday. They wanted to be with other people, even strangers, to remember those who died and the sorrow they felt.
Galleries on Sept. 11
Tribune 9/11 seriesLooking back at the attacks and ahead at the challenges.
Voice of the PeopleReaders share their thoughts on the Sept. 11 anniversary
- New York
See more topics »
"Here we are in the middle of a big city and there is this silence," said Sister Michelle Halm, who prayed as she stood in the crowd. "That was the real heart-grabber for me--to share this silence in downtown Chicago."
At fire stations, there was silence. At churches, silence. At Midway Airport, only the hum and click of the escalators could be heard. At O'Hare International Airport, where the schedule was light, dozens of United Airlines workers stayed quiet for a minute. Then applause rolled from one gate to the next.
It was much the same around the country, in cities far from those hit in the attack. People did what they could to connect with victims they did not know, with a grief made fresh by the anniversary.
They broke the silence with poems, prayers, songs and speeches that sought to give voice to their sorrow and hope.
At the Capitol in Springfield, the Illinois National Guard fired a 21-gun salute and a soloist played taps. In Oak Brook, residents remembered a church's associate pastor who died on American Airlines Flight 11 and a New York firefighter whose brother lives in town. In Blue Island, three firefighters in uniforms dusted with white powder re-enacted the scene of New York firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero.
In Naperville, community leaders broke ground on a memorial for Sept. 11 and Navy Cmdr. Dan Shanower, a city native who died in the Pentagon attack.
As the day began, the clock held somber meaning, giving structure to the remembrance.
At 7:46 a.m., firefighters from across Chicago stepped outside, to mark the moment when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
At 8:43 a.m., four F-16 fighter jets streaked over the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in North Chicago, to mark when the Pentagon was hit.
At 9:05 a.m. and again at 9:28 a.m., south suburban fire departments rang bells on a pumper truck, to mark when the towers fell.
At 9:50 a.m., employees of a Lake Zurich dental supply company stepped outside and bowed their heads to hear the bells from a nearby church, just about the same time and spot they gathered to mourn the attacks a year ago.
Around Chicago, the American flag was everywhere--on sequined vests, on purses, on balloons. One man stuck a flag in his green hard hat. Another wore one behind his ear.
Teenage girls made "I Love N.Y." tank tops. One man wrote "Allah Bless America" on the back of a white T-shirt.
Some people took the day off. Some boarded planes and said such a tragedy could never happen again. Hundreds donated blood--the lines stretched out the door at the Merchandise Mart.
As she waited, Lois Hendricks watched a television replay scenes of the attack.
"This is what gets me--so many people hate us," she said. "What are we doing to turn those opinions around? I don't have the answer. All I can do is give blood."