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Lyman Hall Elementary commemorates 9/11 with annual Freedom Walk
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Lyman Hall Elementary School first graders get ready to march in the schools annual 9/11 tribute, America Supports You Freedom Walk, on Friday morning. - photo by Tiffany King

Lyman Hall Elementary School hosted the America Supports You Freedom Walk to commemorate the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The walk has become an annual event where children attend a special ceremony and march around the school.

In attendance were Fort Stewart soldiers and color guard, 3rd Infantry Division mascot Rocky the Bulldog, Liberty County Board of Education members, Youth Challenge Academy and U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club, along with local law enforcement, first responders, school staff and parents.

Children filed out of the front of the school to the parking lot while waving small flags. Kindergarten students wore shirts showing the American flag paintedwith their handprints. Students watched as soldiers raised the flag half-staff. There was then a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., which marked the time when the North Tower of the World Trade Center was struck by a hijacked airliner.

Fifth-grader Ja-Mar Price read his essay about the U.S. Constitution. He wrote about the Bill of Rights.

He ended his essay with, “We must cherish and respect the Constitution.”

“Today marks the 14-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania,” Lyman Hall Principal Claire Blanchard said. “If you ask most adults where they were on that day, they will remember.”

Blanchard shared that in 2001 she was the assistant principal at Taylors Creek Elementary School and was at the YMCA teaching a swimming class when she heard the news.

Maj. David W. Johnson of the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion was the guest speaker. He recalled being in college and on his way to class when he heard about the first plane hitting the tower.

“New York City firefighters risked their lives by going into the falling and burning buildings to rescue citizens,” he said. “On this day in 2001, we saw ordinary people choose self-sacrifice for the good of strangers. The past 14 years has shown that America does not give into fear. The rescuers who rushed the scene, the firefighters who charged up the stairs, the passengers who stormed the cockpit — all possess courage and heroism. The only way we will triumph over terrorism and conquer the senseless tragedy of that day is by celebrating the kindness of the human spirit.”

Lavonia LeCounte, parent-involvement facilitator and organizer of the event, shared her story about 9/11. Her son was stationed at the Pentagon at the time. He was able to call her and tell her he was safe.

Two students from Lyman Hall and the color guard laid a wreath in front of the school’s flagpole. Blanchard then read a poem by Cheryl Sawyer, titled “One,” that focuses on the unity that resulted from the tragedy of 9/11.

The walk around the school then started with U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club members leading the way on their motorcycles. They were followed by the color guard, school-board members and students by grade level.

Students shouted, “USA! USA!” and waved their flags as they walked around the school. Parents joined their children during the walk.

Fifth-grade teacher Janet Demmin said her students’ first lesson unit in social studies is the Constitution, and they have been learning about the Bill of Rights.

“We were able to tie that together with our study of 9/11,” she said. “We talked about how people were sacrificed and how our community came together and showed that we are proud Americans.”

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