Freedom Walk remembers 9/11
By PAMELA GRANT
More than 800 young voices simultaneously chimed out on Tuesday morning, “I am an American. I am brave. I am strong. I am free. I choose joy!”
The students of J.L. Williams/Lovett Ledger Elementary School joined their teachers, the mayor, and several local first responders as they participated in their annual Freedom Walk.
The walk is held in honor of everyone who lost their lives during the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 which crashed in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001.
Each student completed a lap around the parking lot, with older students completing two laps, many waving streamers and wearing patriotic clothing. After the laps, there was a moment of silence followed by a routine during which the children formed a circle and sang.
“This is the day when we honor the people who lost their lives,” said Kadence Coombs, age six.
Coombs said that they had been practicing their song routine since the first day of school.
“It’s really nice to see the kids being so supportive at such a young age,” said John Bartlett, a Patrol Officer for the Copperas Cove Police Department.
For 2nd grade teacher, Melanie Craig, the remembrance holds a special place in her heart. Her husband is a firefighter, and she says that she tells him every day to be careful and to stay safe.
Craig said that her class reads about September 11, and she teaches them about what happened that day. She said the kids say, “That’s so sad, Mrs. Craig” when they learn that some of the kids lost their mommies and daddies.
“I think it’s still important because it still affects them,” said Craig about why she feels it’s important to continue to teach her students about September 11. “It affects the police, the firemen, the military.”
Physical Education teacher and a VFW Teacher of the Year Terri Jernigan helps organize the event each year. Jernigan said she feels that it’s important that they continue to teach the kids about September 11 and continue to honor those who lost their lives.
“A lot of the kids don’t understand what we are doing because they weren’t even born at that time, but the adults remember,” said Jernigan, who added that she expected to see some tears after the kids’ routine. “The kids need to learn about this historic event, and we give it to them the best we can—without the gory details—so that they can learn that we’re free, but things happen. We can do this because we are free in this country. We just want them to remember that innocent people lost their lives. It gets them building empathy, and citizenship, and things like that.”