GREENVILLE — The U.S. Congress can sometimes unite, despite its differences.
A bill to make September 11 a national day of mourning, requesting that then President George W. Bush designate September 11 of each year as Patriot Day, passed the House by a vote of 407–0, with 25 members not voting. The bill passed the Senate unanimously. As a result, on September 4, 2002, President Bush used the authority of the resolution to proclaim September 11, 2002, as the first Patriot Day.
Monday, September 11, Greenville City School District’s K-8 students participated in a ceremony commemorating Patriot Day, led by Greenville Middle School Principal Chris Mortensen. In attendance were the K-8 students, staff and representatives from the departments of: fire, police, sheriff, emergency medical services, emergency management and others. In addition, school board members, U.S. veterans and community members were in attendance. Greenville Middle School Intervention Specialist Julia Slyder’s students presented each sector of public safety with an award of appreciation. Mortensen explained the events that led up to the tragic deaths of so many.
“It was a bright September day and men, women and children were going about their day, boarding the planes and setting off for their daily activities,” Mortensen said. “They were not aware of those unthinkable acts that were about to happen. Since this event we have engaged the country to provide security to our communities and eliminate the threat of future terrorist attacks both here and abroad.”
“Today, 16 years later, every student here had not been born yet,” Mortensen said. “We want to make sure you remember those events; so you can take time to remember and thank all of those heroes. These are ordinary people just like you and I, who stand up showing exceptional courage and strength in the midst of extreme danger and chaos.”
Greenville Fire Department Assistant Chief Shannon Fritz was the guest speaker. He explained how before 9/11, military bases and airports were open. Since, there has been a threat of terror. He also explained his deployments and sacrifices that many have taken, and continue taking to protect the country.
“I am very humbly standing here in front of all of you, and all of the safety personnel standing in the back,” he said. “I do believe anyone standing back there could give a speech on how 9/11 impacted and changed our lives. Let’s give everyone back there a round of applause. Thank you for all of your support.”
The ceremony included Greenville High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) presenting arms and a salute to the flag at half-staff by way of the recitation of the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the singing of “National Anthem”. Principal Mortensen explained the theme of the Greenville Middle School was “Stand Up, Stand Out, You’re Worth It”.
“I think that all of our heroes that are standing around you right now believe that you are worth it, and that is why those men and women put their lives on the line,” he said.