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Area Patriot Day events honor 9/11 victims, first responders

From the Inside this Week's Bellevue Leader: Sept. 7 series
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Community organizations across Sarpy County will host events in memory of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and honor first responders.

This will be the 20th anniversary of Congress designating September 11th as Patriot Day. Nearly 3,000 people perished in the attacks 21 years ago.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, Werner Park in Papillion will host the 2022 Nebraska 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. The event benefits the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which supports families of local firefighters who have died and the FDNY Counseling Services Unit.

Participants walk the stadium’s steps for more than two miles, the equivalent of the 110 flights of stairs in the towers of the former World Trade Center. The climb symbolically completes their heroic journey to save others. Most area firefighters wear their bunker gear during the memorial climb.

Matt Gibbons of the Offutt Fire Department brought the national event to Sarpy County seven years ago. It started at Offutt, and then moved to Werner Park in 2017.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m. The climb begins at 8:45 a.m. For more information, follow the Nebraska 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at or visit

On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Shadow Lake Hy-Vee in Papillion will host the annual Sarpy County Salute to Public Safety, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Scott Voorhees from KFAB will emcee the ceremony, with featured speakers including U.S. Reps. Don Bacon and Mike Flood, Sarpy County Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Angi Burmeister and other dignitaries.

There will be a presentation of colors by area veterans, moments of silence at 7:46 a.m. and 8:03 a.m. (when the commercial jets hit the Twin Towers), the presentation of an automated external defibrillator to Hy-Vee and a 9/11 memorial tribute. Residents are encouraged to bring signs and flags to show their support.

“Sept. 11, 2022, will be a day where all can gather together in unity to pay tribute to the men and women who serve and protect Sarpy County communities, and remember the pivotal time in history when Americans put their differences aside and came together in support of our country,” said event organizer Russ Zeeb of the Papillion Volunteer Fire Department.

Hy-Vee will provide a free breakfast to all on- and off-duty first responders, their spouses and children under 10 from 6 to 11 a.m. All Sarpy County residents who are metro area law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS and 911 dispatchers are encouraged to attend.

Also on Sunday, Bellevue’s annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony will take place at American Heroes Park at 4 p.m., sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Bellevue.

The ceremony includes a Roll Call of Fallen Heroes from Nebraska and Western Iowa, with cadets from Bellevue and Council Bluffs JROTC units honoring each with a salute as members of Bellevue’s VFW Post 10785 read their names, branch of service, and hometowns. An honor guard of first responders and military leaders will lay a memorial wreath.

The Bellevue Volunteer Firefighters will present the Ringing of the Four Fives to honor first responders, and the VFW will conduct the 13 Folds of the Flag ceremony. The Sarpy Serenaders will perform patriotic music.

“This ceremony honors the men and women and their families who have courageously fought for our country as well as the lives lost on that tragic day in 2001, and the first responders – firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement — who protect us every day,” said Bill O’Donnell, 9/11 Memorial Ceremony co-chair from the Kiwanis Club of Bellevue and VFW Post 10785 commander.

“We will also be honoring our Wounded Warriors and their families, who struggle daily to live complete and fulfilling lives, despite their challenges,” O’Donnell said.

Staff reporter Hailey Stolze contributed to this report.

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