JJC hosts annual 9/11 tribute

For the past 13 years, JJC has hosted an annual tribute to those who lost their lives during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Though it may have started off as a very small event, it has grown significantly in recent years. This year’s event had dozens of people involved and at least a hundred in attendance.

From the Joliet Fire Department Honor Guard, to veterans, bikers, JJC Police, and JJC faculty, this event required a significant amount of effort from both the community and staff to put on.

It is more than just a gathering and a speech. It is more than publicity. It provides time to reflect on the tragedies that occurred 18 years ago.

JJC Police Chief Pete Camanda said, “September 11th was incredibly real. And for you guys who are younger, who weren’t there or were too young to really know, it’s important that you be reminded of what happened that day… It’s important that we remember history.”

Camanda used the old adage “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” quite aptly in his speech. Many who remember this tragedy vividly are concerned that this event will be forgotten in time by those that do not remember it as well.

The tribute was started in 2006 by former JJC President, Dr. Gena Proulx, who passed away in 2011.

This event opened with the Patriot Guard Riders’s arrival, followed by the Honor Guard and a flag lowering ceremony. After the flag was lowered to half-mast, the Will County Sheriff’s Rifle Squad provided a 21-gun salute under the bell tower. Herb Alexander from the JJC Chorale sang “America the Beautiful.”

The morning closed with a speech by Chief Comanda thanking veterans, law enforcement, and emergency services for all the work they do. He also told stories of those that have passed away, both in the past year and back in 2001.

Comanda expressed gratitude for all the servicemen and women who came to the aid of others during the attacks and today.

“People really take it to heart. Even though most of them are the same people every year that come out to it. Those are the people who, I think, are thinking some of the same things I am.” said Comanda. “They want to honor the people who gave their lives and people who died, and this is the way of doing it. It kind of keeps it fresh in your mind. You can think about it all you want, but when you have something that concentrates on it, it brings all that back.”

Comanda will be retiring in the spring and is unsure of whether or not the event will continue in his absence, but remains hopeful. He states that he certainly plans on coming back to attend the event if they decide to keep it going.

This tribute is worth continuing as it provides a way for the Joliet and JJC communities with a way to honor those that have been lost.