NEW PARIS — AppleFest 2021, held in the Village of New Paris last Friday-Sunday, Sept. 10-12, brought the traditional family fun and togetherness of a fall festival, but also a chance to recognize and honor those who protect and serve, and those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Mayor Kathy Smallwood welcomed everyone to the festival during a special ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 11.
“It is my pleasure to be here today doing what Americans are supposed to be doing — getting together and having a good time,” she said. “Not everything we are supposed to do, but it seems to be a nicer, more wonderful part of being an American citizen.”
Smallwood also recognized this year’s festival royalty. AppleFest royalty for 2021 included Apple Dumpling Layla Rader, Apple Princess Alyssa Wood, and AppleFest Queen Peyton Foust. The three representatives were selected based on an essay contest, according to Smallwood.
Serving as parade grand marshals were Cheryl Arnett and family, in honor of her late husband, Greg Arnett. She and son David spoke briefly during the ceremony which followed the annual parade.
Greg Arnett graduated from National High School in 1974, graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1978, and then served six years in the in the National Guard, according to David Arnett.
“After that, as mom said, he wanted to bring his family here, raise his family here in New Paris, Ohio,” he continued. “Dad was part of various things, whether he was setting up the Easter egg hunt, which I believe we always had in this area right here for the kids, or being part of the National Trail Foundation, the Parks Department, the historical society — you name it, he just wanted to be the biggest advocate for this community that he possibly could. He really loved this community, put his heart and soul in this community, and we’re just extremely thankful that we could be here today to honor him.”
“I believe everything is coming together really well for this,” Northwest Fire & Ambulance District Chief Brad Simpson told those in attendance. “Looking back 20 years, honestly, on Sept. 11, 2001, I was just getting started in the fire service. You know, I just finished my first certification class, and I was ready to come out and serve the community. Fast forward 20 years and here I stand in front of you as the chief of the fire department. It’s been a long transition and there’s been a lot of changes in the service. But one thing that’s always stood as kind of the groundwork for public service is the brotherhood that you see before you.
“Looking back at these guys over here, when I look at them, you know I see family,” Simpson said. “When you join public service, you become a family, as dysfunctional as it might be at some times. You know I can see tears and I can see laughter that we’ve shared over the years together. It’s been an amazing ride. And today we are here to, to celebrate the lives of the men and women who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. We mourn with their families as a country. And now we celebrate them as heroes. They were true patriots of the era.”
Simpson then introduced Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson.
“Today we gather in remembrance of the deadliest terrorist attack in human history,” Sheriff Simpson recounted. “Sept. 11, 2001. On a sunny day 20 years ago, 19 terrorist hijackers aboard four planes attacked our country, striking three or four intended targets in New York City and in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth plane would not make it to Washington, crashing in Pennsylvania. By 12 noon on that day, both World Trade Centers had been struck, and collapsed to the ground. The Pentagon had been struck and a side partially collapsed, and United Airlines Flight 93 had crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Some 2,977 innocent people lost their lives on that day, and and thousands more were injured in New York City as people fled from the towers.
“Hundreds of public safety professionals ran into the buildings, to do all they could do to rescue those who were trapped. Many of those people lost their lives. Twenty years later, we as a nation pause to remember and honor each person that we lost. We gather to remember the stories and the lives of each other, and everyone, and where we were at that day and what we were doing. These brave souls were civilians. They were flight crews. They were military personnel, firefighters EMS workers and police officers. Innocent people simply going about their daily lives. Military personnel protecting our country, firefighters and police officers doing what we do each day and protecting our communities.”
Sheriff Simpson continued, “Although 20 years have passed, the pain and the sorrow still remain our country and our way of life were both attacked that day. And our soul was attacked that day.
“This afternoon we pause to remember and to reflect,” he said. “Although a distant history, it seems fresh in our minds still today. Each of us should strive to never let the memories of all those that we lost fade away. What happened that day to our country should not be forgotten. And to our young people that are here with us today, who were maybe very small or maybe not even born, I ask that you learn of this story from your parents and grandparents. This is something we need to share with generations to come.
“To our military personnel that might be here today, both active and retired, we say thank you for serving our nation, and to my fellow public safety personnel both professional and volunteer, we say thank you for protecting our communities, each and every day,” Sheriff Simpson added.
Dave Martin, a member of the Miami Valley Fire District and of Ohio Task Force One, was deployed on Sept. 11, 2001, and arrived in New York City on Sept. 12 ,2001, according to Simpson, who introduced him. “They spent many days rescuing and assisting and helping the wounded,” Chief Simpson said.
Martin said 20 years ago he like many watched on television as events unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001. and watched as the towers fell. “Once we saw the tower start to fall, our next question was, ‘Would there be any survivors, would anybody be able to be saved, or how many people even made it out of the building?’” he said. “When the towers went down, we knew that not only were many people lost, but there were moms, dads, brothers, sisters, spouses, and lives would be torn apart. But we just didn’t know the magnitude of how many that day.”
Shortly after the second tower fell that day, according to Martin, Ohio Task Force One received a call from the President’s office saying they’d be deploying to New York City. “That evening, approximately 82 of us left in Ohio, and moved to New York City, where we arrived about seven in the morning. Our home for the next two weeks was a place called the Jacob Javits Center.
“What we really found out pretty quick was New Yorkers are pretty resilient, and they’re also willing to step in and help.” Martin shared stories of the hard work Task Force One helped out with over the next two weeks.
“As we go through today, I’d like you to remember, not just in New York City in the Trade Center, but also remember the Pentagon and Flight 93. Those are also the unsung heroes. They don’t often get credit for all the stuff that happened in D.C., and also for the ones who took advantage of the plane to be able put it on the ground before it did more damage.
“As I close today, I’d like to leave us with the thought that President Bush said the afternoon of the attacks and that is, ‘Please remember the victims. Please remember the families. Please remember our country,’” Martin closed.
Before a benediction from Northwest Fire & EMS Chaplain Carly Brewster, a moment of silence was held for the Marines recently killed in Afghanistan, and their families.
Serving as Honor Guard for the day’s ceremony was a group of law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel from around Preble County.