Dublin’s recognition of America’s sacrifice and bravery on 9/11 and the efforts of its first responders started early Friday morning and carried on throughout the day.
The schedule included a special presentation at the pep rally by Eddy Weiss of the National Health and Public Safety History Museum. (See speech at the end of this story.) The morning event also included a patriotic display by the Dublin Dandi-Lions and the playing of “Taps.”
This was followed by a come and go event at the Dublin Rotary Building, where a piece of Tower One was presented alongside video footage, archival pieces and art recognizing the significance of Sept. 11, 2001 and the impact that it has had on America since.
Hot dogs, chips and drinks were also served on behalf of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Dublin Rotary Club, Dublin Bottling Works and Brookshire Brothers to all first responders and guests since Sept. 11 has also been declared as First Responders Appreciation Days.
The declaration from Mayor David Leatherwood states: “...our Dublin First Responders do their job well and without any fanfare which makes it easy for us to forget the dangers and we take them for granted. The anniversary of 9/11 should serve as a reminder of the risks these men and women take every day for our community and an appropriate time to acknowledge their hard work and dedication.”
In recognition of their service, first responders were invited to meet at the Rotary Building for the free lunch and with community members so they could show their appreciation.
Almost everyone who came in fell silent as they looked on the 9/11 display with its collection of items.
The pieces are regularly displayed at the Freedom Chapel at the NHPSHM, which showcases the selflessness of first responders, many of which responded without a second thought that day.
One such serviceman was David Weiss, Eddy’s cousin, who was never recovered from the wreckage of Tower One while working to evacuate survivors.
It is partially in his honor, that Jonathon Weiss, Eddy’s son and the founder of the museum takes part in an annual stair climb every Sept. 11. Every year, people walk 2,071 steps in recognition of the steps it would have taken for firefighters to get to the top floor of the World Trade Center.
“This is the third climb I’ve done,” Jonathon said, adding that his previous two climbs were at the Lucas Oil Center in Indianapolis.
Jonathon carried on the tradition of taking the 2,071 steps from his father after Eddy had a heart attack several years ago while doing the stair climb.
As a member of the Dublin Volunteer Fire Department and third-generation firefighter, Jonathon decided he would wear his gear while climbing the steps at the Dublin Secondary School gym this year.
At around 6 a.m. on Friday, Jonathon strapped on about 75 pounds of equipment and started walking.
He said that it took him far less time than he thought (around 35 minutes), but estimated that it took him about three hours to catch his breath afterwards.
Jonathon also helped organize a stair climb for members of the Dublin Cross Country team who would touch the names of first responders present at the World Trade Center as they reached the top of the stands and ring a bell in the middle of the gym floor. A video of their climb can be found on Coach Will Parker’s Twitter (@Coach_Parker).
Parker was impressed in the reverence shown by his athletes.
“I was so proud of them,” said Jonathon.
Jonathon was grateful for the First Responders Appreciation Day Declaration, saying: I think it’s only appropriate that it’s tied to 9/11 since we lost so many EMTs, firefighters, police and responders that day. In the current political climate, first responders don’t always get the respect they deserve.”
Jonathon said he fully intends to continue taking the 2,071 steps to show his respect, although he won’t be wearing the gear next year.
“I learned my lesson,” he said.
The following speech was delivered by Eddy Weiss at the Sept. 11 pep rally:
“My name is Eddy Weiss and I have been a responder my entire life. I am honored to be here on September 11th to address all of you on a day your Mayor has proclaimed is now First Responder Appreciation Day.
On Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001, I was with my wife who was at the time pregnant with my son. We were at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. We were enjoying breakfast and the early morning sunshine with a plan to go to the beach so I could do some surfing. There was a television in that dining hall and suddenly my world came crashing down.
As a responder of now 36 years, there will never be another day in my life like that day.
On that day, terrorists tried to defeat what we Americans stand for -freedom, allegiance, justice, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Their unsuccessful attempt motivated America to become stronger than it had ever been before.
During those attacks, 2,977 people died. Amongst those were 343 firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers in New York City, 1 law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania and 55 military personnel at the Pentagon. One of those firefighters was my own cousin whose body was never recovered.
We woke up that morning not knowing we were at war but by noon we all knew we were.
You gathered here this morning because tonight you have a battle. There will be young men on the field in uniforms, but it is not those in uniforms only that will win tonight. It is all of you. That is why you are all here. If it was only those in uniforms that fought battles, the pep rallies would be held in the locker room.
On this day, 19 years ago, many men and women responded to the attacks of September 11th in uniform, but something happened in this country none of you are old enough to remember. We were unified. Can you picture that? With all that we see in today’s news, all the rioting, the racism, the hatred, the deception, the anger... it is hard for you to imagine I am sure, but believe me when I tell you... the entire country was united. We stood under one flag. We hugged. We held hands. We cried together.
For several years this country went through changes because of 9-11. Travel was different. Who we trusted was different. How we went to school was different. How we spoke was different. We all had to adjust and try embrace these changes.
Now, in 2020, we have a new attack that has changed our way of life. This too is changing how we speak, how we act, how we travel, how we gather, how we trust.
What my generation did with 9-11 was we said we would never forget. But we did.
We remember the attacks but we don’t remember leaning on each other. We remember the news coverage but we don’t remember reaching out to our neighbors. We remember the law enforcement personnel and firefighters but we forgot how we pitched in.
Today, on this field, I want you to know that this country was once united. I want you to know that what my generation did with the memories of 9-11 was not enough. I want you to know that there has never been a generation like yours in the history of mankind and that amidst the changes we are going through now, it is up to you to gather, to unite, to hold hands and to push forward as a team.
Over the course of the coming years this country will need you. Probably before you are ready to be needed. We will need your technological savvy. We will need your energy. We will need your vision. As things are changing and developing, it will be your generation that will be forced to come up with answers and solutions and there is no better generation to do this.
I have brought two things with me this morning.
One is a piece of World Trade Center Tower One. This piece of steel is a small sliver of that building but happens to be from the floor where the men of Manhattan Rescue 1 lost their lives saving others.
The second is my new son who is just now 7 weeks old and was delivered in our home here in Dublin. His name is Justin Patriot.
I brought Justin because he is yours.
I am 55 years old. I will do very little during the rest of my life to pave the future. It is your generation’s hour and what you do from this day forward will define his future. I wanted you to see who you are responsible for. The decisions you make and the paths you choose as tomorrow’s leaders will govern what his life is like.
His future, YOUR future is up to you.
Today you need to look back, before you born and see that on a Sunny Tuesday morning, life in America changed and there were many responses we could have had, but the one we chose was to work together, in uniform and out, to overcome, to adapt, to support and to solve.
This country was capable of unity. We proved it. We lost it.
Now it is up to you, right here, on this day, on this anniversary, to place your hand on a piece of Tower One and say “I will be part of the solutions. I will be one of those that brings unity. I AM the new American and I will win.”