EPHRATA, Wash. – Ephrata Middle School teacher Gary Weddle vowed on September 11, 2001 to stop shaving until Osama bin Laden was caught.
On Monday, after almost ten years, he finally shaved off his lengthy beard.
KREM 2 News covered this story back in 2003, when he had not shaved for almost two years.
At the time Weddle said, "Everyday I'm reminded that there's terrible tragedies in the world and this isn't the first and it won't be the last."
The school’s principal, Jill Palmquist, honored him on Monday and gave the following speech to the students:
Ephrata Middle School would like to take a few moments today to honor and recognize a very unique individual who is among us on a daily basis.
On September 11th 2001, Gary Weddle came to school and told his science students that in support of the United States Military and for the freedoms that America stands for, he would not shave until Osama Bin Laden was captured or killed.
Osama Bin Laden was the master mind responsible for the hijacking of two jet liners striking the Twin Towers in New York City, one jet crashing into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and another D.C. bound jet which crashed into a field in Shanksville Pennsylvania. In all, over 3,000 innocent lives were lost, tens of thousands of relatives and friends still mourn the loss of their loved ones and we have been engaged in the War on Terror.
For 3,454 days Mr. Weddle kept his word, faithful and true. He endured ridicule, jokes and no doubt people telling him that his was a lost cause. On top of that he watched daily news reports that cast doubt whether Osama Bin Laden was even still alive, or if dead his body would never be recovered. In which case, to be true to his word Mr. Weddle would have to never shave again for the rest of his life.
Mr. Weddle has taught us all an important lesson in faith, patriotism and endurance. Would any of us have put ourselves on the line in such a way? It is likely no one else in the entire world had taken such a vow.
Yesterday, May 1st, it was announced that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
Mr. Weddle, we are truly honored and humbled by your example and extremely privileged to know you. The life lasting impact the commitment to your vow has had on over 2,000 students in the last ten years is more than a teacher could even begin imagine. As of yesterday Facebook has come alive as your former students excitedly rejoice in the fact that you can now shave! It might be added that our current population of students was aged two and three when you made your vow. They are the ones to see what so many of them wanted to witness.
Thank you for your dedication, steadfastness and determination to follow through. You are among the most dedicated, faithful and patriotic Americans we will ever have the privilege of saying that we knew.
Although you did not do this for personal glory, you can not escape the fact that we admire your dedication to our country and greatly respect you.
You are our HERO and we salute you!