Editor's note: As the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, Plainfield Patch wants to tell the stories of local residents, like Heidi Kelly, whose lives were affected by the terrorist attacks or have changed as a result in the subsequent decade. Share your story in the comments below or by emailing locla editor Karen Sorensen at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Heidi Kelly hadn’t given it much thought, but life was fairly staid before Sept. 11, 2001. She worked for ’s technology department, was close to her family and had a small circle of friends. It would take a terrorist attack to shake her out of that insulated world. First she volunteered for the Plainfield Emergency Management Agency. Then she joined Operation Welcome You Home, which greets returning soldiers with a ceremony and an escort home. Her most personal project, however, is the video she made to honor Pfc. Andrew Meari, a killed by a suicide bomber in November 2010. She was at Midway Airport when his body arrived, and was so moved by the people gathered there – and along every step of his return home – that she documented the experience with photos later made into a video set to Radney Foster’s song Angel Flight. “I wanted to remember it,” she said. “But I also felt compelled to get it together and get it into the hands of his parents. … I wanted them to see the respect and honor people had for their son.” The video has more than 2,000 hits on YouTube. Would she have done any of this had it not been for 9/11? “Probably not,” she said. “I’ve broadened because of it.”