Heroes of Sept. 11 remembered at ceremony in Winthrop Harbor
By Dan Moran firstname.lastname@example.org September 11, 2013 9:17PM
Winthrop Harbor Fire Department Lt. John Levin, and Cap. Shauna Haske observe a moment of silence during a 9/11 ceremony. | Joe Shuman/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 13, 2013 6:46AM
The complexities of remembrance ran through the reflections of Winthrop Harbor Fire Department chaplain Tim Bycroft on Wednesday, as he addressed a crowd gathered for the village’s annual 9/11 memorial ceremony.
Bycroft said that the human need to remember occasions that alter our lives comes into play even for “events we want desperately to forget,” such as the terrorist attacks on America.
“We stand here tonight and we say once again that we will never forget those families who are missing loved ones tonight, and those first responders who lost their lives,” said Bycroft, pastor of North Point Church.
“But everyone knows that it takes more than just a promise. It takes a lot more than just a coffee mug (or) just a bumper sticker or posters to always remember,” he added. “After all, we’re human, right? We tend to forget rather easily, don’t we?”
Bycroft pointed out that even those affected most closely by the tragedy rebuilt their lives, but he noted that “the wounds might heal, but for those of us who remember that day, the scars are still there.”
Co-sponsored by the fire department and the Winthrop Harbor Firefighter’s Association, the annual ceremony was staged in a memorial plaza installed last year in front of department headquarters on Sheridan Road. It began shortly after sunset with the singing of the National Anthem by Aurora McCoy, daughter of Lt. Alicia McCoy.
An honor guard marched in with Beach Park firefighter Chris Samuels in the lead playing the bagpipes. Deputy Chief Bill Beetschen told the gathering that 9/11 lives in his memory for the effect it had on his vocation.
“Among everything else that occurred that day, we as brother and sister firefighters lost 343 brothers, as well as police officers, civilians, other emergency responders,” he said, “and everything that occurred afterwards is, as they say, history.
“Every time the fire service loses a brother or sister, regardless of their length of service, the fire department gathers to remember them and their contributions,” he added. “The mantra ‘never forget’ (is) something we believe in our hearts.”
Village Trustee Richard Robards, recalling 9/11 as “one of those days where everyone remembers where we were,” thanked the department for staging a memorial ceremony every year since the attacks.
“I hope we always remember and never forget, and keep on doing this ceremony every single year,” Robards said.
Wednesday’s ceremony was the first since the installation of engraved bricks at the memorial site honoring both past and present members of the Winthrop Harbor Fire Department.
Department administrative assistant Donna Kauppi said the names of some 20 personnel have been put in place since the program began earlier this year. Among them are the names of the department’s original chief, Delmar Newton, and also Ron Levin, who is retiring this year after 50 years of service with the department.
As the program drew to a close, Beetschen told the crowd that “unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer services like this, but I will tell you that there will be a service right here in 2014.”