Firefighters and City Officials Commemorate the 17th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks

The Davis firefighters along with city officials, school district officials, and community members gathered on Tuesday morning to commemorate the 17th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and elsewhere.  In attendance included among others were four members of the Davis City Council: Mayor Brett Lee, Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida, and Councilmembers Lucas Frerichs and Dan Carson.

City Manager Mike Webb and Police Chief Darren Pytel were also there from the city.  Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry was in attendance, as was former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada.  Superintendent John Bowes was there representing the school district, as was Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby and a fifth grade class from one of the elementary schools.

Fifth graders born after 9/11 serve as the next generation to learn what took place that fateful day
Mayor Brett Lee gave his remarks
Firefighters fly the flag
A steel girder from the World Trade Center
Firefighters ring the bell for their fallen comrades
Chief Daryl Arbuthnott gives his remarks
Firefighters watch the ceremony
City Manager Mike Webb gives his remarks
Union President, Captain Bobby Weist, delivers his speech

Here are the full remarks from Captain Bobby Weist…
Thank you all for joining us this morning. My name is Bobby Weist, President of Davis Firefighters Local 3494.

When you flip the pages of the calendar to September, 9/11 doesn’t look like anything special.

The box for the 11th isn’t any bigger than the one for the 12th or the 15th.

On the calendar, the September day that stands out the most is probably Labor Day, because a lot of us get that day off.

Of course, if you’re an American … and especially if you’re a firefighter … September 11 is a date that still brings a sting of bitter memory when we say it out loud.

On this fateful day 17 years ago, our country was attacked.

Nearly 3,000 innocent souls were lost in the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Among them, 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, 8 emergency medical technicians and 1 patrolman.

As a nation and as a society, we still carry the weight of September 11, 2001, in our hearts.

But for thousands of my brother and sister firefighters … as well as countless other emergency and rescue workers … the aftermath of that day has brought with it a new and dangerous health crisis.

For days, weeks and months after the Twin Towers collapsed, every single firefighter from FDNY on and off duty went to the site and “worked the pile.”

They dug through the rubble, hoping to find some remembrance of comrades.

Maybe a shield from their helmet, or a scuffed-up photo. Something to give themselves some closure.

Their efforts inspired us all … but now it is killing them.

To date, nearly 200 firefighters have died from illnesses linked to 9/11.

The NYPD lost 23 officers on 9/11. That same number have now died of 9/11 related illnesses.

By the end of this year, it’s estimated that more people will have died from their toxic exposure since 9/11 than were killed on that horrible day.

For those of us in the fire service there are also the injuries you can’t see.

My friend Doug, a lieutenant from FDNY, happened to be on another call when the planes struck the towers.

To this day, he feels haunted by survivor’s guilt.

We know that there are many others out there who are similarly troubled.

Why them, and not me?

Why do I get to go home to my children?

As firefighters, we are coming to understand that these are the seeds of post-traumatic stress injury – P.T.S.I.

For many, P.T.S.I. remains clouded by a stigma. We’re supposed to be the strong ones. We run into buildings when others rush out.

“You can’t take it? Find another job.”

But we know better.

Those same rescue workers who carry the physical effects of 9/11 are almost certainly carrying the emotional scars.

When they were done working the pile, they went back to their home agencies and continued to see the day-to-day horrors that we as firefighters deal with.

The horrific traffic accident on the freeway.

The desperate effort to give a dying child one more breath and one more chance.

Comforting those who have lost everything and collecting their memorabilia.

These daily sacrifices leave a mark, as surely as the toxic dust from the Twin Towers is leaving physical scars.

The sacrifice for those who lost their lives while protecting others on 9/11 can never be forgotten.

The gratitude can only be paid forward by taking care of those who will continue to risk their lives while protecting others.

Have a great day.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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4 thoughts on “Firefighters and City Officials Commemorate the 17th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks”

  1. Alan Miller

    Seeing no comments . . . I’ll turn comments into a “where were you?” on that day.

    Oddly, I took the day off from work.  I slept in to 11:00am.  There were odd news reports on the radio, but it had been hours since the attacks and people weren’t talking about the attacks, but about details that made no sense, something about buildings burning, no location.  I turned on the TV and there was a closeup of the side of a tall building.  I didn’t recognize it.  I assumed this was local news as I had no location.  I walked outside and looked east down the railroad tracks towards Sacramento to see if there was a plume of smoke.  All was clear.

    I went back inside and there were two towers on TV.  I didn’t recognize them.  I’d never been to New York City (still haven’t).  I wasn’t familiar with the World Trade Center (that may seem odd, but East Coast never meant much to me).  Still wondered what was going on.  Finally I heard it was New York.  I was relieved, most friends and family on the west coast, wasn’t here.  I did have one cousin in NYC.  Though very near, she was OK.

    I was supposed to go to the Bay Area and see a band play that night.  I was very emotional over the attack and wasn’t sure I was going.  It turned out the drummer was supposed to be on a plane and didn’t make the gig.  Most gigs that day were cancelled.  Oddly, this group hired on an ACE Bay Area jazz drummer and carried on.  I didn’t go to the gig — after hearing of their replacement drummer, I wish I had gone.  Later, I heard tapes of the gig and it was WEIRD.  The band was the Living Daylights and the drummer Scott Amendola, for aficionados.

    The weirdest story I heard from that day was two friends who were backpacking in the Siskyou’s for a week.  They had been there before, and it was under the Pacific Flyway (for jets, not birds).  They noticed there were no jets all week.  They had no idea why.

    Your ‘where were you’ story?

  2. Jeff M

    Getting ready for work and got a call from my Dad telling me to turn on the television.  I did and he said “those f _ _ _ _ _ s did it… they actually did it.  This is going to change the world in ways we cannot even begin to understand.”

    I remember thinking “are you sure this wasn’t just some freak accident?”… and then the second jet hit the other tower.

    I watched the burning trade towers and then their collapse, and feeling weirdly excited about the live-action historical event being displayed on the screen, while also burning with an intense anger toward our newly labeled enemies mixed with intense sadness for all the suffering people and their loved-ones that would suffer for many years later.   I remember those intense emotions.  They come back at times… mostly the anger and sadness.

    I had been to New York once in my life by that time, and the memories I had of the New York City skyline included the trade towers as a predominate feature.  I remember thinking that those memories were now wrong and upsetting.  Since then I have been back several times… the last trip included visiting the memorial site and and seeing the almost complete new towers.  More anger and sadness.

    I remember noting that I became much more politically active on that day.  I remember that I had to recognize hate beginning to rise to the surface, and to push it down.  I remember thinking that I have some employees that are Muslim, and I was worried about them.

    I remember driving to work and not remembering the drive.

    We were nearing a decision to purchase some real estate, and I called my realtor to cancel the transaction.  I remember believing that everything was too uncertain now.

    I remember working in a brain fog for the next few weeks.

    I remember being worried about the US and global economy and all the young people that would have to fight these enemies owning their twisted Medieval ideology and culture of death.

    Then I remember President George W. Bush demonstrating the type of leadership that the country needed and that was uplifting and comforting.

    And then all political hell broke lose and I remember thinking that the “f _ _ _ _ _ s” might have actually won as our nation had become so politically-divided beginning that fateful day.

  3. Keith O

    I was working for a major airline at the time in Sacramento, yes one of the airlines that lost 2 planes.  I happened to be off work that morning.  I got up and turned on the TV and couldn’t believe what I was watching.  Little did I know how much that morning would change my life.  I received a call from work the next day telling me to stay home as all flights had been grounded until further notice.  When I returned to work a couple of days later I worked the first flight out of Sacramento.  There was hardly anyone on the plane, the airport was dead.  I remember the ground crew and customer service agents came out and saluted the flight off and everyone was holding candles.  It was touching but sad.  Our airline went into a tailspin from there ultimately ending in bankruptcy.  Was 911 the only cause, no, but it sure did speed things up.

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