In Ottawa the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks claimed nearly 3,000 lives, will be observed midmorning Saturday with a ceremony and a downtown vehicle parade along La Salle Street.
The observance will begin with a free breakfast for first responders and veterans that is scheduled to run from 7 to 9 a.m at the Ottawa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2470, 1501 La Salle St.
About 9:30 a flag ceremony will be led by Ottawa Police Chief Brent Roalson and Fire Chief Andy Borkowski with participation from the American Legion Honor Guard, which will fire a rifle salute and play the bugle call “Taps.”
Afterward, a procession of police cars and fire trucks with active lights and sirens, followed by private vehicles, will slowly cruise south down La Salle St. to Woodward Memorial Drive, the block south of Main Street, where they will disperse.
The event has been organized by Scott Heyob, 40, the VFW post’s senior vice commander.
He said Ottawa Mayor Dan Aussem was quick to support his request for help.
For Heyob, 9/11 has a special meaning: It was his first day of basic training in the Army at Fort Benning, Ga.
At first Heyob believed the reports were meant to be a motivational exaggeration by the drill instructors. But later, when his frantic mother confirmed the attack, he knew it was true.
“That was a somber day for me,” he said.
After training, Heyob first was sent to Germany, assigned to the First Infantry Division and then deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo as well as to Somalia and Turkey later.
After his discharge, Heyob’s new career was as a sheet metal worker. But after 15 years he found himself developing some major aches and pains.
“It turned out my military injuries caught up with me in my joints and my back,” he said.
With help from the LaSalle County Veterans Assistance Commission, Heyob got the help he needed to qualify for assistance with his service-connected disabilities.
He vowed to repay that assistance through service to veterans and others in the community.
“I’m just sort of a beat down veteran who’s going to do everything in his power to give back to those that have given to us,” Heyob said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle