Naperville's Memorial to the Victims of September 11, 2001
Naperville, Illinois, was one of the first cities in America to dedicate a memorial to those who died in the September 11, 2001, attacks on America. The memorial was inspired by Naperville native Naval Commander Dan Shanower, who died in the attack on the Pentagon. Dedicated on September 11, 2003, the memorial is nestled between the DuPage River and the Municipal Center in downtown Naperville.
Freedom Isn't Free
The memorial takes its theme from an article written by Commander Shanower entitled "Freedom Isn't Free." In it, he wrote: "Those of us in the military are expected to make the ultimate sacrifice when called. The military loses scores of personnel each year. Each one risked and lost his or her life in something they believed in, leaving behind friends, family and shipmates to bear the burden and celebrate their devotion to our country...Freedom isn't free."
Honoring All the 9/11 Casualties
The memorial includes more than 140 faces created by Naperville schoolchildren symbolizing the casualties of September 11. These are molded onto the surface of a 48-foot retaining wall that serves as a backdrop to the memorial that also incorporates an eternal flame. At the center of the memorial, a sculpture designed by Benton Harbor, Michigan, artist Bill Cooper integrates 100 pounds of rubble from the damaged portion of the Pentagon, a twisted steel beam from the World Trade Center and granite from the Pennsylvania region where Flight 93 crashed after passengers took on the hijackers. Incised into the sculpture are an outline of Commander Shanower's boot print, the insignias of New York area rescue workers, and the number "93," in memory of the Pennsylvania crash victims. The memorial plaza is surrounded by a perennial garden. The picturesque site is along the Naperville Riverwalk on the banks of the west branch of the DuPage River and adjacent to the city's Municipal Center. The memorial was built on land provided by the Naperville City Council with privately raised funds and donated goods and services.
Commander Dan Shanower
Commander Shanower, 40, combined strong patriotism with a taste for adventure and a wonderful sense of humor. A Navy intelligence officer, he had just begun gathering information on the World Trade Center attacks to brief his superiors when the hijacked plane that struck the Pentagon killed him.
Commander Shanower grew up in Naperville, and attended Naperville public schools, later graduating from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He joined the Navy and was commissioned as an officer in 1985.
Commander Shanower's name on the National September 11 Memorial in New York City on the site of World Trade Center Towers 1 & 2.
[photo courtesy of Anthony Kosinski]
A Community Memorial
Here's what Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel said about the reasons for creating the memorial:
"In the aftermath of the attack on America, all of us wanted to do something to demonstrate that the terrorists had not frightened us. This memorial displays our resolve and our support for our nation's quest for justice. It shows that we have not and will not forget those thousands of innocents who died because, for no other reason, they were our fellow citizens."