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Naperville Riverwalk Memorial Pays Tribute To Victims Of 9/11: 'This Is Like Looking At Hallowed Grounds'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Never forget. Many haven't - by honoring 9/11 victims year after year. The 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Saturday will be no different, with remembrances happening around the state.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us to Naperville to explore 20 years of symbolism at one special site.

The days may drag by, but Marty Walker never tires of sharing the story behind Naperville's September 11th memorial.

"I'm glad to talk about this steel beam which came from Ground Zero," Walker said, pointing to the large piece of metal rising from the sculpture. "This is like looking at hallowed grounds."

Every inch of the monument carries a symbol from the day that changed our country forever.

"This granite came from Pennsylvania near Shanksville, where Flight 93 crashed," he explained of the memorial's material. Much of the granite is cut in the shape of a pentagon.

On one section, blast marks symbolize Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Another area houses a footprint for Naperville native Dan Shanower, who died while working for the U.S. Navy inside the building.

"All the rocks here are pieces of the Pentagon that were donated to us when we were creating this art project back in 2003," said Walker.

In the 18 years since the Commander Dan Shanower 9/11 Memorial went up, the Exchange Club of Naperville makes it a priority to host an annual ceremony for victims and their families.

"I've been buoyed by the support this community has given as well as my family," Shanower's mother told CBS 2 at the 2017 event.

This year marks Walker's 10th year as chair of the ceremony.

"We all took an oath when it took place 20 years ago that we'd never forget. So that's the one thing that we want to project is that we're not going to forget," he said.

With millions affected, Walker is proud of Naperville's permanent reminder of the attacks and the sacrifices that followed. After talking to CBS 2 for almost two hours, he happily explained the memorial's significance again to complete strangers.

Naperville's 9/11 ceremony start time is a little different this year. Organizers will begin the program at 8:46 a.m., the time in New York when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

The event is located at the monument site, along the Riverwalk behind Naperville City Hall at 400 S. Eagle Street.

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