GLENCOE — Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein of Glencoe’s Congregation Am Shalom made a promise to a congregant 16 years ago on September 11 to always remember that person’s brother and thousands of others who died in the terrorist attacks that day.
Lowenstein renewed that promise in front of more than 100 people, including police representatives, who gathered for a memorial observance at 7:46 a.m. September 11 at the synagogue’s flagpole in Glencoe.
The first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 7:46 a.m. Central Daylight Time on September 11, 2001. Not long after that, Lowenstein got a panic-stricken call from a member of the congregation whose brother worked in the World Trade Center.
“They couldn’t reach him,” said Lowenstein. “I sat with them in their living room later that day. The next day they drove to New York. When they came back we held a memorial service. I made a promise then to remember every year.”
Lowenstein said he also thinks of three college friends from the University of Michigan — Scott Weingard, Greg Richards and Laurence Polatsch — who were killed by the terrorists that day.
“A lot of people around the North Shore went to school with them,” said Lowenstein during a DailyNorthShore interview after the observance.
Glencoe Public Safety Participates
Members of the Glencoe Public Safety Department lowered the flag currently flying to be retired and raised a new one to half staff.
“We buy a new flag each year,” said Lowenstein. “We bring it out on 9/11. Public Safety raises it to half staff for 9/11. We put it up the rest of the way later.”
A fire bell clanged toward the end of the event to remember the firefighters and police officers who died trying to help others. There were 420 emergency rescue personnel killed in the line of duty that day, according to the handout at the event. In all, 3,059 people were killed as a result of the day’s terrorism.
The memorial began with a long moment of silence. Lowenstein broke the silence with the words leading into the familiar stanza of God Bless America. Then the group sang the song together. It was sung again by those assembled later in the service.
Cary Lewandowski, Glencoe’s director of public safety, led a delegation from his department to the event. He said he was working the midnight shift on September 11, 2001. His wife woke him to tell he what was happening in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. He saw events unfold on television.
“When I went to work that night we discussed it. We made a commitment of doing our business and to remember,” said Lewandowski during a DNS interview after Monday’s event. “There are those who are 16 (today) and were not here then. We have to remember for them.”
Lives Were Changed Forever
During the observance, Lewandowski said lives were changed forever that day. He paid special tribute during his remarks to those who died while trying to help other victims of terrorism.
“Many lost their lives while trying to rescue or refusing to leave others behind,” said Lewandowski. “We have witnessed and been victims of pure evil that is persistent in its efforts to destroy us. Today is a day not only to honor those we lost, but to honor those who continue to fight for our freedom and security.”
Both Greg Miller of Highland Park and Barbara Breakstone of Glencoe have been to many of the 9/11 remembrances at Am Shalom. The memory of the day is seared in both their minds. Breakstone comes to the event for a simple reason.
“To remember,” said Breakstone. “I come to see my neighbors and remember what happened in a significant way.”
Miller said he feels a sense of obligation to participate in the event as often as he can.
“I feel it is so important that we have this opportunity to come together on September 11,” said Miller. “I remember what happened 16 years ago today. It’s important to tell the story and remember those not here.”
Along with remembering the terrorist attacks, Lowenstein said the day is an appropriate time to remember public safety personnel.
“When anything happens they are there to keep us safe and well,” said Lowenstein.
Here are some images from Monday morning’s remembrance ceremony: