By Jimmie Ferguson
Killeen Daily Herald
Nearly 300 people gathered Monday afternoon at Leo Buckley Stadium in Killeen for a Freedom Walk in remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, to reflect on the lives lost that day, to renew their commitment to freedom and the values of America and to honor service members and First Responders, past and present.
To Nicole Arredondo, 17, of Killeen, it was a show of respect for those who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when America was attacked by terrorists at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and on a downed aircraft in a field in Shanksville, Pa.
"I don't personally know anybody who died on 9/11, but this makes me feel like I am doing something good," said the Ellison High School senior.
To Hilda Arnold, 30, of Killeen, it was an opportunity for her to show her thanks for the freedom that she has.
"To thank the military, to thank the law enforcement officers as well as the firefighters for all their hard work, because they do a lot of great things for the community, and we wouldn't have our freedom today if it weren't for them on the front line," Arnold added.
Capt. Cindy Scott of the Harker Heights Fire Department said it meant the community getting together and celebrating the nation's freedom. "And I love it," said Scott on her second of four laps around the football field.
"It does the heart, soul and community good, and we all benefit from it, physically and emotionally," said Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin. "I think that it's a good thing to remember 9/11, and what it meant to our country. Just remember that we should pull together and work through this war on terror together ... not to live in fear, but to embrace freedom, and I think that's what we are doing."
Before they hit the track, Dr. Jim Hawkins, the Killeen Independent School District superintendent, told the crowd that the event was put together by Killeen, Harker Heights, Nolanville, Fort Hood and KISD officials.
"This has been an all-day affair with citizens joining each school campus all over the community," said Hawkins, the master of ceremonies.
Hawkins had the active-duty soldiers, their families, firefighters and police officers to stand, as the crowd applauded each the groups.
Retired Maj. Gen. Stewart Meyer addressed the crowd as he paid tribute to those who died Sept. 11, 2001, those who tried to save them and died and the veterans who have died to protect and preserve America's freedom over the past years.
"Freedom is a funny word," Meyer told the crowd. "The words most often used in finding freedom are liberty' and independence.' We have all heard it over and over again that freedom isn't free.
"The terrorists attacks five years ago tell us what those words mean," the general said. "The terrorists hate our freedom."
The cost of freedom is to battle terrorism, he said.
For those not in uniform, Meyer said there is something that they can do for freedom – vote.
"The next opportunity you have to go to the polls, go there and take your neighbors with you and take your kids with you," said Meyer, adding they have to be registered before Oct. 10. "Vote for those who you think would best protect our freedom, whether it will be at the national, state, county or city level."
By not voting, Meyer said the political leadership will think that they don't care whether the fight for freedom is won or lost.
Others who participated in the ceremony were Shoemaker High School JROTC cadets, commanded by Col. Lennon Tatum, posted the colors; the Killeen High School Band provided the music; Chaplain Wilfred Brewster led the prayer; and retired Gen. Robert Shoemaker led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Contact Jimmie Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org