GREENVILLE – None of the nearly 1,600 students gathered Wednesday for the Greenville K-8 Patriot’s Day observance were born on Sept. 11, 2001.
Yet, they stood quietly in their school’s parking lot, showing respect under the Stars and Stripes hoisted above their heads by the Greenville Fire Department’s ladder truck.
Wednesday’s bright blue skies and quiet breeze mimicked the conditions of 9/11, when nearly 3,000 lost their lives in four terrorist attacks on the United States — in New York City, Arlington County, Va. and Shanksville, Pa.
Greenville Middle School Principal Chris Mortensen, who has been leading a Patriots Day observance since he became principal at the district’s middle school in 2008, said he heard students asking about their upcoming assembly as they arrived at school Wednesday morning.
“A lot of students said they didn’t know what it (9/11) was,” he said, adding “we want to make sure students have the opportunity to know how our community and country came together on that fateful day, to remember the sacrifices that bring us together on this day of remembrance.”
Mortensen gave a brief overview of the 9/11 attacks.
“It was a bright September day, innocent men, women and children boarded planes and set off to their daily activities as they had done so many times before. They were unaware of the unthinkable acts of terrorism that would bring horror, destruction and loss for people across our nation and the world. Nineteen terrorists boarded four planes. Two planes struck the World Trade Center, a third crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth was brought down by the heroic actions of the passengers and crew in Pennsylvania.”
It had been reported the Pennsylvania flight was destined to hit either the White House or the U.S. Capitol building.
Mortensen reminded students how “on September 11 of each year we observe Patriots Day as a remembrance of the lives lost and the selfless dedication of our public safety community on that day.”
Also participating in the Patriots Day observance was Greenville school bus driver, retired Ohio Army National Guard Master Sergeant Gailen Wilson.
Wilson told students he had served for 34 years in the Ohio National Guard and spent 15 months in Kuwait, in support of Iraqi Freedom.
“Today we are still battling the war on terrorism in the U.S,” and will until all terrorists are found, Wilson said.
As part of the observance, the Greenville High School NJROTC presented a military drill and students recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
The school’s annual Patriot’s Day again included students in Julia Slyder’s MD Resource class presenting current public safety representatives with a special treat, including the Greenville Fire Department, Greenville Police Department, Greenville Township Rescue, Spirit Medical, VFW, American Legion, Darke County Sheriff’s Office, and the Darke County Veteran’s Association.
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