COPPERAS COVE—Paul Warren, music teacher at Williams/Ledger Elementary School, stood among a crowd of 1,000. The crowd was comprised of students, parents, faculty and first responders under one grey sky.

Chatter in the crowd would suddenly fall silent. Each mind reflected upon national tragedy that struck 17 years ago.

“The kids need to know why we have days like this,” Warren said. “It’s important for them to realize why we gather here today.”

The parking lot along Courtney Lane overflowed as the crowd marched to honor the several thousand lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001 in terrorist attacks coordinated by al-Qaeda. Copperas Cove police, firefighters and various city officials joined youngsters in a sea of solidarity.

Warren said preparation for the event starts at the beginning of the year to ready students for song. The children sang tunes like “I Believe I Can Fly” and waved streamers in a celebration of American freedom.

Warren, a military veteran, has helped coordinate the event since it began about six years ago. This year drew record-breaking crowds, according to district spokeswoman Wendy Sledd. More than 800 students joined about 200 faculty and parents for the show.

For second-grade teacher Melanie Craig, who is married to a firefighter, the memory of what was sacrificed 17 years ago by dozens of first responders remains strong.

Craig reads a book called “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” each year to her class in order to underscore the significance of what suddenly happened that day.

Her young students are met with awe whenever they hear of the valor those exhibited during acts of terror to protect those in peril.

“I have kids that go, ‘You mean some lost their mommies and daddies?’” Craig said.

In her 16 years of teaching at the school, seeing the walk develop into a dialogue between her generation and new generations has been encouraging.

“I think it’s great that we honor those who have fallen,” the teacher said. | 254-501-7553

Herald staff writer

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