Friends, neighbors make sure we never forget

People commemorate 9/11 in their own way.

My husband and I always make sure our American flag is on display near our front door. Monday morning we watched news coverage of family members reading the names of those lost in the attacks, including their loved ones. One of the readers was a young boy there to honor the grandfather he never had the chance to meet.

Hinsdalean Dave Pequet sent out the annual "Remembering Sept. 11" email from his company, MPI Wealth Management.

"The victims, the survivors and those who serve and protect - may we never forget," it reads.

I reached out to Dave to ask why he believes it's important to send this email each and every year. The first thing he mentioned were the 3,000 lives lost and the sacrifices made by first responders, military personnel and their families in what he called the Pearl Harbor of this century.

"There is now an entire generation that was not even born on 9/11 and never witnessed those traumatic days in September 22 years ago," he said. "I believe that those that witnessed that day have a moral and patriotic responsibility to honor and keep those memories alive."

Over in Burr Ridge, Chicago firefighter/EMT David Pineda marked the day by climbing 110 flights of stairs at Lifetime. He's climbed in remembrance of his fellow firefighters every year that he has been able to do so, he told me.

In past years he has climbed at the John Hancock Center, Presidential Towers and Willis Tower. For the past two or three years, he's been at Lifetime.

"I'm kind of tired already," he said, noting that he worked a busy shift last night. But that wasn't going to deter him.

"I'm still here," he added.

Climbing 110 floors normally would take him 21 minutes, he said. But he does it donned in full gear, which adds another 60 to 75 pounds and doubles the time, he said.

This year he made the climb with six others by his side. None of them know Pineda, or each other, but they didn't want him to climb alone, said former Hinsdalean Dana Widrig, membership concierge.

"We could have had the club filled," she said. "So many people wanted to walk with him - and not for the T-shirt and not for the free lunch."

Most of the volunteer climbers were longtime Lifetime members who simply needed to be asked.

Kelly Hawkins, an LT grad, said she agreed to climb because she, like so many of us, will never forget where she was that day more than two decades ago.

"I was in English class and my teacher's name was Ms. Fritz and I was a sophomore in high school," she said. "So I remember."

Also climbing was Meghan McCarthy, a native of Golfview Hills and 2015 Hinsdale Central graduate who now lives in Clarendon Hills. Four years old at the time of the attacks, she remembers very little of that day. But she can imagine what some of the families who lost loved ones went through.

"My dad was a firefighter at Oak Brook back in the day," she said.

As he predicted, Pineda was the last of the group to finish the climb. When he did, the entire club stopped to applaud his efforts.

I am personally grateful to all who took the time Monday to help us remember. Every year I think of my visit to the 911 Memorial & Museum in New York and the Virgil quote emblazoned in Memorial Hall.

"No day shall erase you from the memory of time."

We promise never to forget.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean