As the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approach, Barrington residents joined together at on Wednesday evening to remember our national tragedy and to support U.S. troops with a rousing, patriotic rock concert and compelling stories from U.S. military veterans.
On a breezy evening, the sound of revved up motorcycle engines signaled the start of the event, as members of the Warrior Watch Riders rolled in single-file to salute the Lake County Marine Corps League Color Guard as they executed a flag drill.
After the ceremony, Barrington resident Joe Cantafio fired up the crowd with his 101st Rock Division Band's version of The Who's "Teenage Wasteland," followed by smoking covers of U2, Beatles, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen songs. Cantafio, who has been leading rock cover bands since his teens, felt a strong call to duty on the days after 9/11.
"I tried to enlist after 9/11, but because of my age, they turned me down," says the 56-year-old father of four. "I remembered what President Kennedy said, and I asked myself, what can I do for my country? Music was the answer."
After founding the 101st Rock Division Band with the intention of supporting and entertaining enlisted men and women, Cantafio and his group where sent to Iraq in 2004 to entertain the troops. Since then, the group has provided patriotic rock themed entertainment throughout the U.S. -- especially in Chicago's Northwest suburbs.
Between song breaks, attendees heard compelling stories by local military heroes. Sears Holdings executive Mike Saubert served in the Army National Guard and deployed for one year in Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot.
"We've heard plenty of reports of how our country has grown war-weary," Saubert said. "But when you think of soldiers today carrying 80 pound rucksacks up and down mountains in 100 degree temperatures, often in the line of fire, you've got to remember, they're still fighting for our freedom every day."
Kids and adults were treated to patriotic face painting and attendees were invited to decorate cards for military personnel at the Soldier's Angels booth. On Occasion Catering offered concert-goers mini pulled pork sandwiches doused in caramelized onions and spiced lemonade.
"It makes me proud to know that local folks appreciate the military so much," said Tom Mead, a recruiting assistant for the National Guard. "I think Americans have always been patriotic and supportive, but 9/11 awoke a sleeping giant of emotions for this country."
A native of Barrington, Terry Jennings, executive director of the Barrington Park District, feels a strong bind to the United States military. Jenning's father, Lt. Commander Kenneth Steinmetz, fought under General George S. Patton during World War II.
"My family has great respect for the military, so I'm honored to be here tonight, not just as the organizer, but as a United States citizen," Jennings said. "We thought it was important to remember 9/11 ten years later in a way that celebrates those who fought -- and continue to fight -- for our freedom."