Urbana community remembers 9/11, loss of one of their own 19 years later

The Urbana community came together Friday at Freedom Grove Park to remember all who lost their lives 19 years ago during the 9/11 attacks, including one of their own.

Alicia 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.

Urbana Mayor Bill Bean said this day means a lot to him and that it’s an important tradition.

“It means a lot to me. First off, we lost one of our own, Alicia Titus, and I’m friends with her parents, John and Bev, and it kind of hits home when somebody this close to you perishes in a tragedy such as this,” he said. “If you haven’t been here... you’re missing something. You’re missing what life is all about.”

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One of the day’s organizers said this ceremony will take place every year.

“We’ll always do it every year, so it’s an honor to be out here to remember all those that we lost today,” said Craig Bennett, Commander of DAV Chapter 31. “No matter what’s going on in our world, we will always be here on Sept. 11 to do our ceremony, to do our remembrance."

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Bennett said the community just needs to remember what this day is about and be there to honor and pay respects.

“They just need to remember. That’s what Patriot’s Day is and Sept. 11. It’s a Remembrance Day. Just remember what these people did to us and how we reacted and all the lives that were lost. We’re here to honor all those,” he said.

Some of Titus' family members were in attendance for Friday’s ceremony, as well as others including first responders.

“It’s rough this year because it’s been 19 years,” said Patti Fink, Titus' aunt. “But it’s awesome that the community has done this for her.”

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Fink said she brought a rose to lay out for Titus, who she said was a joker.

“I remember some of the funny things that she used to do when she was growing up... she was a joker. She had a good heart, a good soul,” she said. “You never know what’s coming tomorrow. You just have to be thankful for what you have because tomorrow’s never guaranteed."

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Bennett said it’s an honor to have Titus' family be a part of the remembrance.

“Her family has been coming out here ever since we have been doing it for nine years, I’m sure they came from day one, but it’s just an honor to have them here and an honor that she was one of our citizens here in Champaign County,” he said.

Throughout the month of September and as an effort to pay respect to Titus' family, Urbana police officers are wearing a lapel pendant on their uniforms to show that Urbana is a nationally recognized International City of Peace, according to city officials.

This designation came about because of the dedicated efforts of Titus' parents, John and Bev.

“Since that time, John and Bev and the team that make up the local Alicia Titus Memorial Peace team have created many opportunities and presentations for our local community to discuss, learn about and create new opportunities for finding peaceful resolution to issues we face throughout life,” city officials said.

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