By Seth Stephens
The Belton Journal
For anyone old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, the image of smoking towers and their eventual collapse is likely engrained in their minds forever. It was a day which altered the course of modern history.
As the years have passed, 9/11 has become a day to honor the sacrifice of brave Americans and to rededicate to the American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Two Belton ISD elementary schools held days of remembrance on Sept. 11, 2014 to do just that.
High Point Eementary School students participated in a memory walk at 7:50 a.m. last Thursday. The solemn youngsters filed out of the school building and walked in single file out to a tree planted in recent months. Some students planted small U.S. flags at the base of the tree and others held hand-made, patriotic signs.
“These students kind of know what happened (on 9/11) because it’s history,” school councelor Tiffany Rathbun said. “It is an opportunity for the kids to recommit to ideals like American liberty.”
Rathbun organized the walk at High Point elementary. In preparation for the event, the school planted the tree, which they dedicated to their adopted unit at Fort Hood, the 49th Movement Control Battalion. Some of the members of this unit were present for the event in addition to members of the police force and fire department.
“We talk (to students) about the sacrifices that firemen, policemen, EMTs, soldiers and other people make for us,” Rathbun said.
After walking for approximately 911 seconds, students returned to class for the day, leaving dozens of little flags planted at the foot of the tree.
Southwest Elementary School held their annual Patriot Day Assembly Sept. 11 at 1:30 p.m. The fifth-grade class gathered in the cafeteria for a lesson in flag etiquette. American Legion Post 55 Commander Jesse Wilson taught students about handling and respecting the flag.
“Mr. Wilson does a lot for our school—he is very supportive,” Southwest Elementary Principal Sandra Atmar said to the fifth-graders. “He has come (here) because we think that it is very important that fifth graders understand the meaning of the flag, how to respect it. It’s very important that we always show pride in our country, and the flag is a symbol of that.”
Wilson, who served 21 years in the military, said he was thankful for the opportunity to educate the students on the history of the flag as well as how citizens should treat the flag.
After his tours with the military, Wilson taught at Southwest for 16 years.
Following Wilson’s instructions in flag etiquette, where some fifth-graders learned how to fold a flag, the rest of the student body joined them in the cafeteria for a march, with patriotic music blaring in the background.