On September 11, 2017, Greenville students in grades 1 to 8 participated in their first Patriot Day Assembly as a united group at the new K-8 Facility. The 7th and 8th grade students have been conducting this ceremony in honor of our local and national heroes since 2002. All of the students in the K-8 facility have a common bond when it comes to this tragic event in our history, which is that all of them were born after this date in 2001.
For those who were here in September of 2001, I am sure none of us will ever forget the events of that day. For many of us it is not just the events, but the fact that our friends and family were touched by the loss of someone or had family that were deployed to help in the events that followed. We remember the 19 terrorists that boarded four planes and hijacked them causing devastation and loss that accounted for more than 3,000 American lives. We were saddened by the more than 400 law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel that lost their lives in one of the deadliest incidents in their history. As a result of these attacks we were united in a common bond to insure our freedoms, to stand firm against terrorism and that we would not let fear rule over us.
We desire to have our students be aware of their freedoms as well as the cost of those freedoms. All too often we take those freedoms for granted and think that they are simply there. Without our courageous men and women who protect us daily through service in the military, police, fire and EMS groups, as well as all of our veterans, we would simply not have the freedoms that we cherish.
We assembled in the back parking lot at 9:30 AM with over 1,700 students, 140 staff and various service personnel from all of Greenville’s local organizations. After an introduction explaining Patriot Day and the events of September 11, 2001, we were offered an exhibition of the talented NJROTC riffle drill team and the presenting of the colors at half-mast at two locations to the right and left of our students. The students then turned and faced the back of the parking lot while the National Anthem played and the students shared in the Pledge of Allegiance. We were then blessed with our very own Assistant Fire Chief, Shannon Fritz, sharing his experiences from that fateful day. He provided an excellent connection to the sacrifices shared by all those who were involved in the events following 9/11.
Mrs. Slyder’s class from Greenville Middle School provided tasty snacks and presented this along with certificates of appreciation to the groups who joined us on 9/11/17. The students and staff involved in the ceremony should be complimented, as they were all well-behaved and respectful in acknowledging our honored guests.
Finally, as ceremony concluded, we instilled in our students that it is our distinct honor to not let this memory fade away. While these events were tragic, it is our responsibility as citizens to remember the lost, commemorate our heroes and acknowledge those that continue to stand for our freedom. We salute you and thank you for honoring us with your courage.