WEST ELKTON — On Friday, Sept. 11, West Elkton Elementary School officials reminded students to “Never Forget” as they held a service honoring those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and recognized the first responders who currently serve.
West Elkton Elementary Principal Kyle Morton opened the ceremony.
“We would like to recognize those fallen heroes who died, as well as the local heroes who put their lives in danger every single day to make sure we stay safe,” Morton said.
Members from the police, fire and EMS departments of Gratis, West Elkton and Camden, along with the Preble County Sheriff’s Office, were all in attendance at the ceremony.
The service, which lasted about 30 minutes, featured local Pastor Gary Agee,who spoke to the students in attendance about the importance of remembering the first responders and others who died as a result of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Morton retold the story of the day in which 19 hijackers took control of four airplanes before crashing them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, claiming the lives of 2,993 people. The lives lost included 246 passengers on the planes, 2,603 in New York, 125 at the Pentagon and 24 still listed as missing.
Of the 2,993 people who died, eight were EMTs, 37 were port authority police officers, 23 were New York police officers, two were New York paramedics, and 341 were New York firefighters, for a total 411 emergency workers who lost their lives as they attempted to save the lives of others.
Morton introduced Agee, who reminded those in attendance about the pledge made on Sept. 11 to “never forget.”
“In one sense we come together today because we made a pledge, really in the hours after 9/11 we made a pledge,” Agee said. “This is a pledge that we would never forget. It was such an impactful day, such an impactful event, that we paused and said we can never forget this, and we won’t forget the people who lost their lives, we won’t forget the sacrifices of the women and men who are gathered here today or those we watched on television as they ran to the dangers instead of away from burning buildings.”
Agee then asked to the students to recite “We Remember” as he cited the number of 2,993, representing the people who lost their lives. “We remember,” said the crowd after each time he named one of the numerous groups who gave their lives or lost loved ones during the attacks.
Agee reminded those in the audience the true meaning of America, reminding them of the United States’ motto — E Pluribus Unum — which translates to “out of many, one.” He encouraged the students not to fall into the same kind of prejudice and bigotry the 19 hijackers displayed during the attacks.
The ceremony concluded with a moment of silence, followed by Taps being performed by Cailin Forest, a senior from the Preble Shawnee High School band.
After the ceremony, Morton talked about the importance of passing the memory of 9/11 on to a younger generation which does not have the vivid memories many of us share from that day.
“For them in a way, it’s kind of like Pearl Harbor was for us, I think just by us continuing to teach and educate those kids on what a tragic day it was — hopefully they will come to a better understanding of what that meant and how it impacted us.”