Students encouraged to “Never Forget” at 9/11 ceremony held at Daleville High

BY Jan Murray jmurray@southeastsun.com

  • 15 September 2016
  • Author: Admin Assistant
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Students encouraged to “Never Forget” at 9/11 ceremony held at Daleville High
Even with 500+plus students, faculty, staff and others in the Daleville High School gymnasium Monday morning, Sept. 12, it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop once Principal Josh Robertson explained the purpose of 30 seconds of silence—to somewhat align with the nearly 3,000 who died on Sept. 11, 2001 during Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the two World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a downed hijacked plane in Pennsylvania that was presumed to be headed toward the nation’s capital.During the morning assembly, students watched as the Color Guard of the Warhawk Battalion of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps posted the colors and then listened as a brass ensemble of the high school band played the National Anthem while everyone placed their right hand over their heart.Robertson, along with JROTC Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Lucy Jones, shared their personal memories of 9/11 and the importance of remembering 9/11 and respecting the flag when the National Anthem is being played.Jones related memories of her father, who was serving in the military at the time of the attacks, as well as the memories of her mother who worked on an Army post at the time and after the attacks, no one could get on or off the post. She said that hearing the memories of the day from her parents, aunts, uncles and others, gives her “chills.”“The fact that you think/thought that the United States is/was so safe, but then someone could come in and hurt our country like that is/was devastating for all of us,” said Jones. “Some of us were not even born yet, but when you hear the stories you kind of feel what was going on and it hurts to know that something like this has actually happened to us.”Jones went on to encourage her fellow students to respectful of the flag, those that fought and died for it and what it represents.“Some people take it as a joke, but it is a real important thing because all of us wouldn’t be sitting here if someone had not been fighting for us,” said Jones. “It’s a symbol of those that have served, those that died and those that are still serving. Take the time out and be respectful.”Robertson said, “For many of you sitting here, this is the only world you’ve ever known. You were born after 9/11 and things don’t seem different for you.” He went on to explain the freedoms he experienced in his life prior to 9/11, such as freely going onto Fort Rucker and enjoying all it had to offer without checkpoints, without identification badges and so forth. “It was a wide-open place,” he said. “There were no checkpoints…but all that changed Sept. 11, 2001. Our entire country changed.”The principal, who was in his first year of teaching, explained that while every generation has a moment or two in time to mark happenings, whether the start of a war or some other event, the 9/11 tragedy was the first to be broadcasted live around the world.“As soon as the first plane struck the towers on Sept. 11, news coverage began. And live on television a second plane struck the other tower. Then an hour after that plane struck, that tower collapsed to the ground on live television for everyone to see,” said Robertson. “Not too long after that, the second tower collapsed. It changed people’s lives. As Lucy said we are the United States and were supposedly untouchable. But, people came to our country and showed us that it wasn’t that way. That’s the importance of remembering 9/11. To know that while we have petty differences…we are one unified country that has a common thread…15 years ago some people changed the way we look at things.”Robertson went on to explain that in any video that can be watched about the 9/11 attacks is the visual of first responders running toward the danger while everyone else was running away from it. During that portion of the speech, Daleville Rescue Squad member Kevin Turley received a live call on his radio and had to rush out of the assembly and Robertson used that as another example of what and how such personnel respond in emergencies.Police Chief Harvey Mathis, School Resource Officer Jason Myers and Firefighter Ken Smith then rose as the entire assembly gave them a rousing standing ovation. After the ceremony, numerous students greeted the first responders and thanked them for their service.Smith said the ceremony meant a lot to him, but it is very hard to put into words what 9/11 means to him personally.Mathis said, “I’m proud we were able to participate in a ceremony that honors the firefighters, police and rescue people because so many of them gave up their lives on 9/11. To see the students so eagerly watching and participating shows that patriotism isn’t dead and there are people that still have respect…It was real inspiring for me to see that.”Myers said he was really pleased with the outcome of the special assembly and it is all emotional to him when he remembers being in his twelfth grade English class and school “coming to a halt” as the day’s events unfolded live on television. “Everything changed from that point on…I’m really proud to be a police officer and serve the city and the people of the state of Alabama.“We want to remember things. We don’t want to repeat actions of the past. But, we also have to always know where we come from…We need to know where the good and the bad of our country come from. The things that you learn about what happens around you is going to shape your whole future. It’s going to shape who you are,” Robertson reminded the students. “You guys are the future of our nation…It’s extremely important that you take time, like Lucy said, to reflect on things when they happen and after they happen…Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11…The city of Daleville only has a population of about 5,000. So imagine that if something happened here in Daleville and there were only 2,000 people left. That is what 9/11 took away from our country.”
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