An inspirational, poignant event hosted annually by the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce returns this year. “9/11: An Evening of Remembrance” pays tribute to those first responders and others who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. This year’s 9/11 Evening of Remembrance, sponsored by AV Pro, Inc., is Sept. 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn. 800 North Main Street.
The evening starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, with a social hour and cash bar. A seated dinner and program follow at 7 p.m. A DPD Honor Guard, and remarks by Retired Fire Chief Terry Webb and Chaplain Dave George are featured. Duncanville Fire Chief Sam Rohde and Interim Police Chief Mark LiVigni will speak about the events of 9/11, and the 20th anniversary. Patriotic music will be provided by award-winning singer Monica Saldivar, as well as bag piper Steve Pruitt.
First Sgt. Ross Dobelbower
Special guest speaker for the program is First Sgt. Ross Dobelbower, who is now with the Coppell Police Department. On 9/11 he was a Duncanville police officer, but had remained active with reserve units. After the attacks on 9/11, he felt called to reenlist and serve his country. When the Army wasn’t taking back veterans, he joined the National Guard, and later served one term in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Sgt. Dobelbower was with the unit that captured Sadam Hussein’s palace.
The patriotic program to honor the victims and first responders of 9/11 was started by Steve Martin in 2002. At that time he owned Republic Glass & Mirror Co., and wanted to do something to honor the victims and first responders of 9/11, as well as recognize our Duncanville Daily Heroes. His brother, Captain Dale Martin, is now a retired Dallas firefighter.
Spurred into action, Martin borrowed a large tent from the City, lining up music and food from local businesses. Longhorn BBQ agreed to discount the food, and after the first year, Longhorn owner Mike Harrell donated the food. Martin, who worked with beverage companies during the Beer & Wine Election, solicited donations of beer and wine for the event. Over 200 people attended the first 9/11 memorial, set in a large tent on Highway 67.
Duncanville Fire Department Chief Terry Webb and Police Chief Jack Long both made remarks at the program. When Mayor Glenn Repp made a few remarks on stage, Martin said, “and he thanked me for starting this annual event, which hadn’t been the plan–until then.”
The event continued to grow, along with support from members of the local community. Longhorn BBQ continued to provide food, while beer and wine store owner Brooks Makan donated beverages. Republic Glass continued to sponsor prizes to honor Duncanville Police Officer of the Year and Fire Fighter of the Year in an added event.
In 2006, Martin proposed to his (now) wife, Janice Savage, onstage at the 9/11 event “in front of 400 of my closest friends,” he remembers. Shades of Gray played at that memorable event (which can be seen on video on his FB page).
Martin sold his company in March of 2009, and in June of 2009 he took the helm as President of the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce. While people in the community frequently lobbied him about bringing back the 9/11 event, Martin says he wasn’t sure how to go about it without his company sponsoring it.
Duncanville Chamber of Commerce
In 2014, the first 9/11 event sponsored by the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce started the “9/11: An Evening of Remembrance” in place of a luncheon. Broadcaster Dale Hansen was the keynote speaker. Duncanville Police Chief Robert Brown and Fire Department Chief Sam Rohde also spoke.
The event, which Martin says “is near and dear to my heart” will be observing its seventh year after missing last year due to Covid. Speakers have included broadcaster Jody Dean, who remembered how the tragic events of 9/11 affected news reporters as they unfolded. Hansen also returned as keynote speaker for the event, and Sgt. Ross Dobelbower, who is this year’s speaker, was the keynote speaker five years ago. A V Pro, Inc. has sponsored the Duncanville Chamber’s ‘911 Evening of Remembrance’ for several years.
Evening of Remembrance Sponsor A V Pro
“Just as this event is special to Steve Martin, Duncanville Chamber president, it holds a special place in our (Amy Jackson and Tom Fowlston) hearts, as well. A V Pro is a theatrical systems integrator, meaning we provide and install equipment necessary for a production. As such, New York City is one of our favorite places. The events of 9/11 closed what we consider to be the very life blood and heartbeat of NYC – Broadway. We feel it is important to remember what happened that terrible day – all of the lives that were instantly changed – and learn from it,” says Amy Jackson.
On a recent visit to Martin at his Chamber office, he pointed with justifiable pride to some of the numerous plaques, flags, and other tributes he has received over the years for starting the 9/11 event. One of his most treasured items is a framed U.S. flag that flew over the Pentagon, from the Duncanville Fire Department.
Martin says, “I hope that we never forget that day, and how it changed our lives forever. It took something that tragic for people to honor and respect our first responders. They went into the burning buildings while everyone else was trying to escape.”
Tickets to attend the event are $40 each, or $350 for a reserved table of eight. For more information about the 9/11 Evening of Remembrance, or to reserve tickets for the event, please call Hilda Cabrera at 972-780-4990, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.