GREENVILLE — Greenville Middle School honored service members on Patriots Day.
The Greenville Middle School held an assembly Friday, Sep. 10 to honor those who not only lost their lives to the events on Sep. 11, 2001, but also all those who lost loved ones, and those organizations that responded to the tragic events of that day.
“Last year we didn’t get to have this assembly,” Chris Mortensen, Greenville 7-8 grade principal, said. “It’s too bad because we need to make sure that we take time to remember those in our past that have stood up to make sure they are protecting the freedoms and the lives that we have.”
Principle Mortensen continues on by bringing awareness to those who sacrifice themselves and their lives to protect us. He thanks those service members who were able to be with them that day.
“We ask, ‘where are our heroes? Where are those who sacrifice and put others before themselves? When things get tough, who will lay everything down to make sure you are safe?’” Principle Mortensen asked.
He said those heroes are standing behind and amongst us providing the sacrifices that have led to the 20th anniversary of that fateful day of Sep. 11, 2001. He says it is important to remember the day and say thank you to those who laid down their lives for the people.
A moment of silence was taken for all those who have lost their lives serving before the guest speaker was presented.
Lt. Ryan Benge served in the United States Army as an infantryman from 2008 – 2011 and had a one year tour in Iraq. After retiring from the Army, Lt. Benge moved on to becoming a Greenville Police Officer for the last eight years.
“We are blessed to be in a community that supports our veterans, active duty military, and first responders,” Lt. Benge said. “Like veterans, first responders are people who are willing to sacrifice everything for strangers.”
Lt. Benge goes on to state that even though the students who were present were not alive when the events of 2001 took place it is important they hear how he felt on that day.
“I was in the sixth grade, but I feel like it was yesterday,” Lt. Benge said. “It really felt like a bad dream. I was scared and confused, but mostly angry.”
He was in the sixth grade when it all went down. Lt. Benge says he was in computer class, sitting around a TV with his classmates when they watched the events on the news unfold. He said he was trying to understand how something like 9/11 could happen.
“The entire country united, and we all wanted whoever was responsible for the attack to be dealt with quickly. The world was watching to see how the United States would respond,” Lt. Benge said.
Seven years after the attack, Lt. Benge joined the army and can safely say those responsible for this attack have heard our voices. Thousands of American lives were lost during Sept. 11 and many more were killed or injured in the wars to follow.
“It is in my opinion that to honor all those we lost and those who have sacrificed so much, we must come together as a community,” Lt Benge said.
He explains how after the tragic event took place the county came together as a whole. When walking outside, there was no space not covered with an American flag. He says we were all united by a general cause.
“Flash forward 20 years and we are focusing too much on our differences,” Lt. Benge said. “We are forgetting that at the end of the day, we are lucky to live here.”
In order to push past our differences, Lt. Benge says to treat those with different opinions with respect, be proud to be an American, help someone when you get the chance, and make a positive influence in someone else’s life.
“It is our actions when we leave the memorial that truly honor those who have sacrificed so much,” Lt. Benge said.
To contact Daily Advocate reporter Meladi Brewer email [email protected]