NORWOOD PARK — Drivers heading west on Devon Avenue on Chicago's Northwest Side this week likely will see a blue bedsheet with gold spray paint displaying a simple message:
The banner has been showcased each September outside the home of Norwood Park resident Desiree Luburich every year since the 9/11 tragedy, which claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field.
"It's important to me that these people aren't forgotten," said Luburich, who lives in a three-level home at Devon and Sayre avenues with her father, John, and sister, Pam. "It's more just to keep their memory and honor their memory."
Luburich staples the bedsheet to her house a few days each year before 9/11 and leaves the sign, which also commemorates the four planes that crashed that day, up for a few days after the anniversary. When she's at home, Luburich said she consistently hears passing cars honking their horns in support.
"I hope that people, when they drive by, it makes them think and remember and maybe do one thing different that day," Luburich said. "I know it's kind of corny and cliche, but maybe they'll tell somebody they love them, or give them a hug."
Luburich was with her family in the Orlando area for a Disney World vacation on Sept. 11, 2001. She had just returned from a movie rental store when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. She watched in horror as the day's events unfolded.
Her returning flight to Chicago was one of the first ones out of central Florida. She said it was "very quiet."
Luburich, a Jefferson Park native and Taft High School graduate, didn't know anyone directly affected by 9/11, but she felt she owed the victims a yearly reminder that their lives are remembered.
"My daughter is a real patriot," said John Luburich, 83, a former Marine and retired bricklayer who grew up in Lincoln Park and graduated from Lane Tech High School.
The Luburiches have owned the Norwood Park abode for 25 years. They've owned four Bears season tickets in Soldier Field's north end zone for 33 years. They had a pair of Blackhawks season ticket at Chicago Stadium from 1981-85.
Luburich proudly flies flags from Chicago's pro football and hockey teams in the backyard during the season. When Walter Payton died, she put up a large banner sporting his number, 34. There's always an American flag waving, too.
Every Sept. 11, Luburich watches the 9/11 documentary by the Naudet brothers, who witnessed the two towers collapsing. This year, the family also will view "102 Minutes That Changed America," a video that shows various people's footage of the event from New York.
Luburich's email signature includes the phrase "Life is way too short ... trust me." Her mother, Betty, died of a massive brain hemorrhage in 2000 at age 66. She never had a chance to say goodbye.
And Luburich knows countless others didn't get the opportunity to do the same with their loved ones because of 9/11.
"Again, I didn't lose a family member or friend on 9/11, but I did lose a lot of innocent fellow Americans, and I will never allow their lives to be forgotten," she said.