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Chicago Marks 20th Anniversary Of 9/11 Attacks; 'We Must Remember The Sacrifices Made'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A moving ceremony was held Saturday morning at Daley Plaza to memorialize the lives impacted by 9/11 on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

CBS 2's Meredith Barack takes us there, as several first responders and citizens gathered to reflect on the last 20 years.

U.S. Army Veteran and survivor of the attack, Carlos Vega shared his experience commuting to work at the World Trade Center on September 11.

It's a day Sergeant Vega will always remember.

"Let us never forget the day America was attacked 20 years ago," he said. "The morning of September 11th, I got up just like any other day. I started my commute to work in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on an exceptionally beautiful day."

Two decades later, and almost 800 miles away, Vega vividly described what he witnessed on that fateful day.

"I noticed paper coming down, which reminded me of a ticker tape parade that they had in New York City. I followed the flow of the paper, which led my eyes to the World Trade Center, which I saw burning," he said.

Sergeant Vega is Chicago native and grew up in McKinley Park.

His experience witnessing the attacks, walking through New York City "while it was still in flames," led him to serve his country and join the Army.

"Make the ultimate sacrifice for your country, the way we live our life from this day forward, will teach, will determine how we honor those that are no longer with us today," Vegas said. "In a time when America seems so hopelessly divided, this image of diverse entwined human fabric is what keeps my faith in America."

Listening to Vega's story, with an American flag in hand, was Patrick McParland.

"I was here for the first memorial they had here after 9/11, and I brought the flag then, and I brought it again today, because I wanted to pay tribute," he said.

When asked if he had a connection to 9/11, McParland said he was a first responder, but that's not why he was there.

"I'm a human," he said.

McParland said it was important for him to be there in person, and for the victims and heroes to know they will never be forgotten.

"If they see this, and they know that it represents them, then that's a good thing," he said.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown honored the Chicago police officers who went to New York to assist.

"Thirty-four Chicago police officers were among those who traveled to New York City to help with the recovery efforts," Brown said. "We must remember the sacrifices made. We understand that through service, our nation is stronger."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is honored to carry on the tradition of remembrance in Chicago.

"We can never forget the innocent lives lost, lots of change forever, both in our country and abroad," Lightfoot said. "We can never forget to continue to think of the first responders and frontline workers who run into the face of danger on behalf of our safety and our security."

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