Shenandoah residents will pause at midday today to mark a significant moment in our nation’s history.

“A Day to Remember” is the theme of the city’s annual Patriot’s Day commemoration, honoring those who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11th of 2001. As in previous years, the event will start with a familiar sound. That’s the Shenandoah Fire Department’s sounding of the “Four-Fives,” honoring firefighters and other first responders who lost their lives responding to emergencies that day.

Distiguished local residents have provided keynote addresses in past ceremonies — including one directly touched by the 9/11 attacks. In 2018, Kim Leininger of Essex was the speaker. Leininger was the aunt of Douglas Ketcham, a New York stockbroker with Cantor Fitzgerald, who was working on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower when a hijacked plane crashed into it.

Leininger relayed the story of Douglas’ final moments. “When he called that morning, he said he didn’t know what had happened, but his room was filled with smoke and he was under his desk, calling on his cell phone. He said the door to the fire escape was locked, and no one could get out,” Leininger says. “He said he loved us, but he didn’t know what might happen. That was the last we ever heard from him.”

In 2019, Page County Veterans Affairs executive director Janet Olsen recalled how victims awoke on that warm, sunny day in 2001, not knowing of their fates. “Most of us got up this morning and didn’t have a whole lot of things to worry about,” said Olsen. “Me, personally, it was what flavor of Pop-Tart am I going to eat? So, a gorgeous beautiful day. But, let me tell you something, the day that this happened on 9/11, there were 2,752 people just like us, American citizens, who had the same dilemma, whether they wanted blueberry or strawberry. They woke up, they took care of their families, and they went to work — and we lost them.”

Shenandoah Mayor Dick Hunt is this year’s keynote speaker. Shenandoah High School’s Marching Mustangs will play the National Anthem. The Shenandoah American Legion’s Color Guard will also participate in the 12:10 p.m. ceremony at Bogart Park.

(By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)