As the United States remembers the events of September 11, 2001, people are showing their appreciation for first responders in a variety of ways.

September 11, 2001 was a day Americans will never forget.

People look to honor those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack by showing appreciation for all first responders.

Famous actor Gary Sinise took to the stage on Erie’s Bayfront on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023 to perform a free concert by Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.

Actor and philanthropist Gary Sinise said he’s been an advocate for our first responders his whole life, but his appreciation went to new heights after the unforgettable events of September 11 in New York City.

Actor Gary Sinise was on stage using music to say thank you.    

First responders go above and beyond the call of duty, but never more so than on September 11, 2001.

It’s an event Sinise said changed the lives of many, including his own. He said it was one of the catalysts for the Gary Sinise Foundation, which aims to give back to first responders.

“We have people that are willing to put on uniforms and go off and defend us, get in police cars and drive around looking for trouble, and are running into burning buildings trying to pull somebody out or pull somebody out of a car wreck, something like that. These people, they do and see things that not all of us see, and we benefit from the security and safety that they provide for us,” said Gary Sinise, actor and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Sinise noted he grew up with several family members in the military. Something that’ll always stick with him is how he saw them treated when he was young.

“They didn’t get the pat on the back and the welcome home and the ‘we’re grateful’ and all of that. It was a divided nation at that time. The nation was not grateful, it was torn apart, and our Vietnam veterans fell through the cracks. We don’t want that to happen to the people who are willing to go out there and put on a uniform and defend us,” said Sinise.

The actor and his Lt. Dan Band performed a free concert for a massive crowd at the Highmark Amphitheater at Liberty Park in downtown Erie Monday night.

Sinise also pledged $150,000 to all first responders throughout the greater Erie area, helping them to continue to protect the communities they serve.

Several former service members that we spoke to said they wish there were more people in this world like Gary Sinise.

“With Mr. Sinise being here, it’s awesome. We need more people like him to support the veterans and the first responders,” said Skip Zeiber, army veteran.

“He’s done a phenomenal job throughout the country and we’re so fortunate to have him here. And it’s obvious by the people that are coming in tonight,” said said Dennis Newara, army veteran.

Some audience members we spoke to off camera told us it was a night that they’ll be sure to remember for a long time.