Bunsold Middle Schoolers took time Wednesday to remember the victims of 9/11 and honor the first responders involved.
Several local first responders who helped in New York during the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks spoke at an assembly for the middle schoolers.
The panel featured Mike Palumbo, regional K-9 coordinator for Ohio Homeland Security; David Applegate, Union County Coroner; and Lieutenant Joe Daniels of the Marysville Fire Department.
They each acted in a different capacity in the aftermath of 9/11, but all shared the importance of the event – even for those who weren’t born until after it occurred.
“It’s important to understand how we reacted, how we moved forward,” Daniels said.
Palumbo said he was part of the K-9 unit within Ohio Task Force One, a convoy that traveled to New York. There, he worked as a K-9 handler on search and rescue missions.
Beyond his work as a coroner, Applegate used his pilot’s license to assist those on the ground. He said he flew on several trips between Ohio and New York to transport blood to those in need, as well as search and rescue dogs to assist first responders.
Instead of the assistance he provided, Daniels focused on his cousin, one of the initial first responders to reach the South Tower. Through tears, Daniels said his cousin died during his mission there.
Daniels said he felt especially compelled to help the victims in New York because grew up there and watched the World Trade Center being built during his childhood.
“No matter where you were in the nation, everyone wanted to go help,” Daniels said. “I was one of those people – I wanted to go home and help.”
Aside from sharing their own experiences, the panelists shared photos from that day and answered questions from students.
While the students aren’t able to personally compare life before and after 9/11, the first responders explained how the events that day changed our society.
As first responders, the group agreed that their roles have changed and they’ve taken on more preventative measures since then.
“As opposed to running in with no fear, we had to learn how to stay back and see things from the outside,” Daniels said.
Additionally, he said it made people more cognizant of the roles that first responders play in their communities.
“People used to think of them as just firefighters or police officers, but this made them heroes.”
Although the students can’t recall the aftermath of the events 18 years ago, the panelists said they still have the opportunity to honor the legacy of those who can.
“A lot of us are no longer mourning, instead we’re celebrating the people,” Daniels said.