An American flag is draped in front of the McCook fire station during 9-11 ceremonies. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

An American flag is draped in front of the McCook fire station during 9-11 ceremonies. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

McCook hosts celebration of heroes to honor sacrifices of September 11

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By Carol McGowan

Despite the drenching rain on Sunday, more than 200 people gathered for the annual Celebration of Heroes event at the McCook Fire Department to honor the people who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Five villages took part in Sunday’s event:  McCook, Riverside, Forest View, Lyons, and Willow Springs.

“It was a very successful event,” said McCook Mayor Terry Carr. “We had a great turnout even with the weather being what it was.  We set up for 150 people, and had more than 200.”

dvn celebration of heroes pipes and drumsRalph Zaccariello, who has been organizing the event for the past 17 years, had said that due to his age catching up with him, this year would be his last. He missed Sunday’s event because of health issues.

Carr is not letting him off the hook easily, however. He said that even though Zaccariello announced this year would be his last, he still owes him another year as he wasn’t able to make this one.

MABAS Division 20 Honor Guard kicked off the event, and Riverside Fire Chief Matthew Buckley introduced the Chicago Police Department Pipes & Drums.

Lyons Fire Chief Gordon Nord filled in for Zaccariello in welcoming guests to the event.

Willow Springs Police Chief Garry McCarthy was the keynote speaker.  McCarthy was a member of the New York City Police Department on September 11, 2001.

He recalled the events of that day and choked up a few times.

“We were all united then, we need to get back where we were,” he said.

McCook Fire Chief David DeLeshe read the names honoring 2021’s fallen first responders.

A bell chimed for each of the fallen.  Chicago Fire Department FF/EMTs Corey Hojek Jr. and Eric Berglind rang the bell, as well as Chicago Police Department officers Enrique Cervantes, Kevin Flynn and Jordan Casey.

Elizabeth French, mother of slain Chicago Police Office Ella French, rang the bell in honor of her daughter.

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Elizabeth French rings the honor bell in memory of her daughter, Chicago police officer Ella French.

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