Area communities participate in annual Freedom Walk
By PAMELA GRANT
On September 11, 2001, tragedy struck America when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, killing thousands and injuring thousands more. On this day, even 16 years later, many still remember—many will never forget—what happened that day, both the tragedy and the images of hundreds of first responders doing everything they could to lessen that tragedy.
Monday morning, hundreds of local residents including those from Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, Fort Hood, and more met at Leo Buckley Stadium and the Killeen High School auditorium for the 12th annual Freedom Walk.
“We are here today, 16 years later, to remember the nearly 3000 people that lost their lives in the deadliest terrorist attack in modern world history,” said Killeen Police Chief Charles Kimbel, the guest speaker for the event.
After a brief presentation during which they showed video clips of the attacks and response, everyone walked a lap around the stadium. At the conclusion of the walk, they tolled their freedom bell and Gold Star family members released balloons in honor and remembrance of those who lost their lives.
“Today we walk as a reminder that freedom is anything but free,” said John Craft, KISD superintendent. “We walk today to show our support for troops who continue to defend the freedoms attacked on that very day. We walk today for first responders and law enforcement who courageously charge towards danger to protect us each and every day. And finally, we walk today to remind one another that the strength of our great country is within all of us, united as a country for the greater good.”
On Monday, men, women, and children walked around that stadium and just remembered. Those old enough remembered where they were and what they were doing that day.
“The video was emotional. It was kinda like a flashback,” said Police Officer Heather Rosa.
“I remember I was in THIS school when it all happened…It was a shock. No one expected it,” added Police Officer Mayra Ayala. “This is a great way of honoring and remembering everything that happened that day and how far we’ve come since then.
Neomi Oliver, a Gold Star family member, remembered her husband, Curtis F. Oliver, an E-6 who lost his life in Iraq serving as a civilian. She said that the freedom walk was nice, and she wished her grandchildren could have been there. Her grandchildren never got to meet their grandfather.
“It shows how we’ve been able to overcome since the day of 9/11 and everything that’s happened since then,” said Oliver. “Every time we have an event like this, it’s an opportunity for people to learn and see what people have gone through to get to where we’re at today.