SWHS students remember 9/11 in ceremony
By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 12, 2012 1:46 PM
Members of the Southern Wayne High School Air Force JROTC honored members of local fire departments Tuesday during 9/11 ceremonies at the school
DUDLEY -- One by one, Southern Wayne High School students, who had gathered in front of the school for Tuesday morning's 9/11 remembrance ceremony, walked down the line of volunteer firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel shaking hands and thanking them for their service.
The ceremony, conducted by the school's Air Force JROTC students, including raising the American flag, lowering it to half staff and a flag-folding ceremony.
Just minutes before, Principal Dr. John Boldt had invoked the words of President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration speech in which Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
"President Kennedy was asking Americans to serve and to sacrifice for the good of the nation," he said. "On Sept. 11, hundreds of firefighters, police and first responders sacrificed their lives serving their country by trying to save the victims of the terrorist attacks on that fateful day."
In the two wars since then, thousands of the country's armed forces have given their health and their lives defending the U.S. from terror, he said.
"We must never forget these heroes and what they did," he said. "They gave, as Abraham Lincoln said about the fallen soldiers at the battle of Gettysburg, 'the last great measure of devotion.' They sacrificed all for their country and for freedom.
"We can honor our heroes by learning from their examples. We can honor them by choosing to accept the challenge President Kennedy laid before us. We can honor them by choosing to serve and sacrifice."
Boldt said it was easy to sacrifice for friends and family, but not as easy to do so for strangers. Yet, that is what those heroes did, he said.
Boldt said he hoped that those at the ceremony would take with them that commitment to serve their neighbors.
The 3,000 innocent people who were killed in the attacks died for no reason other than they lived and worked in a free country, said Lt. Col. Michael Timmerman, Southern Wayne ROTC senior instructor.
"Those attacks were supposed to scare us, to somehow break us, and to destroy us as a people," he said. "But instead those attacks only strengthened us as a nation."
What people forget is that immediately after and in the days following the attacks are the tremendous sacrifices made by those who responded to the attacks, he said. In rescue attempts following the attacks, 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers were killed when the towers collapsed, he said.
"These men and women entered burning and unstable buildings to save the lives of others," he said.
Also, Americans across the country stepped up to help, donating $1.4 billion and 36,000 units of blood to help survivors and families who lost loved ones, he said.
"This ceremony is just our way to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 and to also thank those who every day stand ready to risk their lives to help those in trouble," he said.