Officer Doug Dillon, who serves as the Supervisor of Security for the Garfield Heights City Schools upholds a solemn responsibility each and every anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th. As he pauses, he encourages us to always remember. His special connection to the tragic events of that day, and the mourning that lasts to this day, has great significance. In serving as a member
of the Critical Incident Stress Management response team, Officer Dillon played a critical role in the aftermath of the tragedy. He met with and counseled many first responders and those involved, all of which have left an imprint on him forever. This year, to honor those who were lost, the families of those who lost loved ones, and those who he counseled, Office Dillon is creating a 9/11 memorial at the Middle School on Friday, September 9th. He contends that students and staff who weren’t even born in 2001 must have an understanding of the events of that day so that everyone can remember and honor the loss of life.
In his capacity with the Critical Incident Stress Management team of Cuyahoga County, Officer Dillon was one of several volunteer public safety officials who traveled to Ground Zero shortly after 9/11 to meet with New York City Police Department first responders in the tragedy’s aftermath. Specifically, he counseled police officers who helped with disaster control, survivors, body extraction, and more of the most gutwrenching tasks associated with the events. For a week straight, Officer Dillon met with up to 100 first responders a day, giving them the gift of his full attention. “Listening was a skill that I greatly developed engaging with 9/11 first responders,” says Officer Dillon. Investing 12-14 hours each day during his volunteer stay, he counseled nearly 500 public safety officials who simply needed to talk through their experiences to ensure their own mental health stability. The most horrific personal stories were shared with Officer Dillon of what was witnessed in light of the attacks on the World Trade Center complex. After listening, he provided first responders with resources and information to help in the months ahead. As a member of the C.I.S.M. team of Cuyahoga County since 1996, Officer Dillon had been thoroughly trained to encourage communications with people who were involved in such disastrous events. What he heard in the months following 9/11, is precisely what he hopes our country never forgets.
In addition to the Middle School Memorial, and to honor the thousands of lives lost on September 11th, Officer Dillon wears a polo shirt that displays an emblem that reads: Gone, but Never Forgotten. At his home, he flies a flag that commemorates those who perished. And every school year, he is asked by teachers to come in and speak to classes about the men and women he counseled in the aftermath of 9/11. With the display he has made for such presentations, he is dedicated to showing students and staff that even though individuals perished and families were devastated forever, they can be honored with our remembrance of them. He also shares with students how the nation was unified in the wake of these attacks, and how everyone pulled together to show respect and pay tribute to those who were lost.
Please remember to thank Officer Doug Dillon for helping us to remember those who lost their lives. He is a special individual who brings a special place of solemn honor to 9/11 and this school district.