The bright red, student-written banner at Cavazos Elementary School in Nolanville spoke as poignantly as any of the patriotic messages this week: “9/11 Never Forgotten.”
Across Killeen ISD schools Monday, students of all ages celebrated freedom and acknowledged sacrifice on the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America.
At Cavazos, Principal Joseph Gullekson convened a school-wide assembly in front of the school. After a group of fifth-graders raised the flags, as they do each day, he gave the regular announcements and then explained the uniqueness of the day.
“Even though they were not born when it happened, they understand the sacrifices necessary for our freedom,” the principal said following the assembly and freedom walk around the building.
“They will know there is something special about 9/11. They know that we take care of our fellow Americans.”
Kindergarten teacher Rebecca Baker directed her young students as they walked around the school with signs and patriotic, handmade accents. At the end, the children posed for a class photo to mark the important day.
“This is part of their history and it’s important for them to learn,” she said, explaining the gravity of the lesson and experience even for the youngest students.
“My approach is from the strength of our nation,” Baker said. “Even though there are bad guys out there, we pull together as a country.”
A group of fifth-graders get to school early each day to raise the flags. Two of them explained the importance of the daily ritual and the annual reminder.
“Nine eleven is when two planes crashed into two towers,” said Cavazos fifth-grader Helena Tackett. “Hope was a little lost,” she said. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We want to honor those who died and think about what happened.”
“We want to honor the firefighters and the soldiers,” said Cavazos fifth-grader Kenneth Corwin. “We raise the flag everyday to represent our school, our state and our country.”
Elsewhere in the community, schools across KISD acknowledged the sacrifice of emergency first responders and the military in keeping the U.S. safe each day. The school district also hosted for the 12th year a community freedom walk at Leo Buckley Stadium.
At West Ward Elementary School in Killeen, students gathered at the front of the building and after the playing of “Taps” on a trumpet, joined adopt-a-school soldiers in a walk around the building.
Maj. Rashawn Warren of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade explained to students that soldiers work hard to ensure the kind of freedom that allows them to attend school and use their education to achieve.
“This is our community and these students have family members who serve,” he said. “We want to serve as an example for them and they should see us out here.”
That day in 2001, Warren was a student at Kent State University. Like many, he thought at first the tragedy at the World Trade Center was an accident until the reports of the second crash.
That day, he said, “I knew I needed to do something bigger.” He joined the military.
“This is a generation that was not around at that time, but they respect and remember our freedom,” said West Ward Principal Maureen Adams. “They honor our soldiers and understand why soldiers do what they do. They need to know why America is a great country.”