As the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has come and gone, I worry the significance of the event will get overlooked as the years go by.
At Livermore High, athletic director James Petersdorf and football coach John Wade are making sure the Livermore football players, parents and fans will not lose sight of what Sept. 11 means to the United States.
On Friday, Sept. 9 (since Sept. 11 fell on a Sunday this year), the Cowboys paid tribute to the memories of the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day.
Wade and Petersdorf orchestrated a night where the Cowboys got special game uniforms that featured a patriotic theme, including a red, white and blue color scheme with the jerseys, helmets and socks.
All this was done without any knowledge of the players until they walked into the Livermore football team room to get dressed for the game Friday.
Watching a video of the moment the players walked in the room was truly emotional.
“I filmed it and turned to John afterwards and told him I needed to go outside,” said Petersdorf.
In addition, all branches of the military, as well as local first responders, were represented at the game.
“John and I planned this about six months ago,” explained Petersdorf. “9/11 has always talked about in classes, but then it’s more like an assignment than paying tribute.”
While the uniform was the easy part, reaching out to the local law enforcement, military and other first responders was a lengthy project. Lengthy, but successful, and fully appreciated by all.
“Once the police and fire were involved it really took off,” said Petersdorf. “They were so happy to be involved and happy to be there.”
When it came time for the Cowboys to take the field Friday night, a police motorcycle officer led the Cowboys through the tunnel and onto the field.
The players were carrying flags of every branch of the military, as well as police and fire. The local fire department brought their ladder truck out and flew the American flag from the top of the ladder.
It was something the Livermore High staff embraced.
And with good reason as there are many ties to all avenues of those affected.
Assistant coach Scott Baswell was a police office on 9/11.
“It meant a lot to him, and he gave an emotional speech to the team before the game about what it meant to him,” said Petersdorf of Baswell.
Steve Peters, another Livermore assistant coach, joined the Marines shortly after the 9/11 attack.
Livermore principal Helen Gladden was fully on board with the night as she comes from a military family.
Livermore quarterback Tyler Trudeau’s father Mike is a police officer. Trudeau is the nephew of former Granada and NFL quarterback Jack Trudeau.
Petersdorf has a sister that is a police officer, and his father works for the California Highway Patrol.
Everyone came together to make it work.
“Being patriotic is a good thing,” said Petersdorf. “These kids were not even alive when 9/11 happened. But for all of use, we remember where we were when it happened. The parents kept coming up and saying thank you for not letting it pass by.”
The entire day was a celebration.
“Our leadership classes did a great job and made it a patriotic day,” said Petersdorf.
There could have been some anxious moments for Petersdorf given the political climate the United States is in right now.
“This is not a political statement,” said Petersdorf. “We just wanted the kids to celebrate being patriotic and celebrate the memories of the people that died that day.”
Which is great and much needed. Unfortunately, it’s something not all schools are able to do.
“I know other schools have tried to do something but have been blocked by their school district or their administration,” said Petersdorf. “I will happily go to the mat for the kids to make this happen.”
Some schools are simply not allowed to remember and pay tribute to those that lost their lives in the biggest terrorist attack on the United States. It is sorry and pathetic that some schools or school districts make those decisions.
Thankfully that won’t happen at Livermore High because of people like Petersdorf and Wade.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Petersdorf of carrying on the tradition started this year. “We have made the decision we will do this every year around Sept. 11, whether we are home or on the road.”