Members of the Urbana and Champaign County community came together Monday at Freedom Grove Park to honor and remember those who lost their lives during the 9/11 terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, including one of their own.
“Today we’re having a 9/11 remembrance to remember all the fallen that day, all the lives lost that day, and the days after that,” said organizer Craig Bennett.
It’s been 22 years, and people in Urbana vowed they will “never forget” Alicia Titus, who was involved in the tragic incident that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Titus, a 28-year-old Champaign County native, died while working as a United Airlines flight attendant on one of the planes after it was hijacked and flown into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Freedom Grove Park has a beam from one of the towers in her honor.
“It just brings back so many memories of the day it happened,” said Patti Frank, Titus’ aunt. “We all seen the plane hit the tower. We didn’t know she was on the plane ... At that time, nobody could find her, so it was rough.”
Frank said it was around noon that day of the attacks when they found out Titus was on the plane.
“There was a lot of innocent lives ruined and lost, for no reason... There was no reason why they should have died. Too many people, too many families have to go through this every year and relive it every year,” she said.
Bennett said Titus’ family does a lot for the community, and the ceremony will take place every year to honor and remember those lost.
“It’s a very sad day. We’re just trying to remember, and we will never forget. We will do this every year,” he said.
Parents Bev and John Titus raised more than $100,000 for the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund to honor their daughter’s memory. They also have taken part in programs that encourage conflict resolution and promote peace education in schools and at the Dayton International Peace Museum.
Alicia Titus played in the Graham High School band, was a cheerleader and had a lead role in the school musical. She later graduated from Miami University and backpacked through Morocco and Spain.
She eventually decided to work as a flight attendant, a perfect fit she thought to see the world, to give her a sense of purpose and to use her interpersonal skills, family members said. She dreamt of graduate school and an eventual career teaching college like her parents.
The Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Run 5K Walk/Run for Peace is held each year at Freedom Grove, 1512 U.S. Route 68 in Urbana, to not only honor Titus, but all of the people who lost their lives during 9/11.
Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked planes crashed at New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.