FFA holds September 11th observance on front lawn of high school

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The Switzerland County FFA chapter honored the victims of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on America and their families last Friday with a memorial held on the front lawn of the courthouse.

The Pacer band opened the occasion with “The National Anthem”, and FFA President Olivia Hewitt, presided over the service. After welcoming everyone, she introduced School Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Jones.

Dr. Jones spoke to those assembled about “defining moments” in their lives, those moments when you specifically remember where you were and what you were doing. She spoke of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion; and the attacks on America 10 years ago.

“I was a principal at the middle school then and it just so happens that we were administering the ISTEP tests that day,” Dr. Jones said. “We were right in the middle of testing when I got the call to turn on the television in my office. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.”

Also honored on Friday was the memory of Sergeant Kenneth Booker, a graduate of Switzerland County High School and a county resident who lost his life fighting in Iraq. His service to this country was honored as a result of trying to bring to justice those who were responsible for the attacks.

FFA officers then took turns sharing the thoughts and memories of a nation from that day; reciting song lyrics and other observations. Officers Jenna Shelley, Micah Works, Vicky Abbott, Nila Johnson, and Chelsea Duvall all participated along with Olivia Hewitt, and the crowd of high school students listened intently as memories from a decade earlier were revisited.

George Miller, chief of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department, was on hand for the ceremony, and brought the section of the Twin Towers that had been given to the department to be placed in the Memorial Park in Patriot. He told the students about the process he went through to secure the beam section for the community; and invited students, staff, and community members to see the beam as they went back into the school building.

Mike Jones, Principal at Switzerland County Elementary School and also the President of the Switzerland County Council, shared his thoughts with students, and also shared with them some comments that he had gathered from former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who had served as the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission following the attacks.

For the students, who would have been in elementary school on September 11th, 2001, it was a day of reflection.

“I don’t really remember much about that day,” one student said as he thought about September 11th, 2001. “I remember my parents being really scared about what might happen next. I was a weird time.”

“I remember how strange it was that all of the airplanes weren’t allowed to fly,’ another student said. “It was a lot different to look up into the sky and not see any airplanes flying over. I guess then we knew things had really changed.”

“My brother had to go to Iraq,” a third student said. “Those attacks made us go hunt Osama bin Laden and go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. My brother is home now, but I wish he wouldn’t have had to go in the first place.”