KILLEEN — During the 12th annual Freedom Walk, held Monday at Killeen High School, Killeen police chief Charles Kimble told those present, “We remain a nation at war.”
Himself a veteran, and military spouse, Kimble recalled hearing about the planes hitting the World Trade Center in New York City while serving with the police department in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg.
Kimble served as guest speaker during the Freedom Walk ceremony, which began in the high school auditorium. “Most who lost their lives on that day were ordinary people,” he said, adding, “We still have men and women in harm’s way” as a result of 9/11.
Kimble’s son currently serves in the Army.
The Killeen High School Army Junior ROTC unit served as ushers for the Freedom Walk, and many members of Fort Hood’s 1st Cavalry Division were present.
Staff Sgt. Julian Rodriguez was serving in the Marines on Sept. 11, 2001. “It’s part of our history,” he said. For the younger members of the division, he saw the ceremony as a way to help them understand the most recent attacks on the U.S.
Killeen Independent School District superintendent John Craft spoke briefly about the Freedom Walk helping those in attendance symbolically walk with the military and the first responders.
Craft stressed how the country is united, and “Freedom is anything but free.”
Members from all parts of the Killeen, Harker Heights, Fort Hood and nearby communities assembled, hearing the Ellison High School choir sing the National Anthem and “God Bless America.” The program included brief excerpts from the History Channel documentary, “102 minutes that changed America.”
Led by the Killeen High School drum line, the assembly moved outdoors, walking to Leo Buckley Stadium.
An arch had been created along the route by ladders of two fire trucks, from which hung an American flag. The procession passed beneath the arch before entering the stadium and circling the track.
All paused as a bell tolled 11 times, then Gold Star families released balloons to commemorate those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
Walter Elvidge of the Harker Heights Fire Department may have summed up the importance of the Freedom Walk: “This is my generation’s history-making event.”
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