Liberty County service personnel, first responders, soldiers and community members turned out Thursday for the America Supports You Freedom Walk at Lyman Hall Elementary in Hinesville.
Representatives from the Hinesville Police Department, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Hinesville Fire Department, Liberty Regional Emergency Medical Services, Liberty County Board of Education, U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club and Fort Stewart’s 6/8 Cavalry Squadron all were on hand for the ceremony.
“We’re here to honor and remember those we lost 13 years ago,” said Maj. Andrew Sinden, 6/8 Cav’s executive officer.
Sinden went on to talk about the importance of service to one’s community, emphasizing that service may take many different forms.
“The biggest thing I ask you to take away … is how can you help your community?” he asked the young students. “Sometimes, it’s just saying a nice thing. Sometimes, it’s joining a profession like the military.”
Jeff Logan, a command sergeant major in the Georgia National Guard and member of the U.S. Vets Motorcycle Club, also spoke about the importance of teaching youth the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“As generations go, we need to encourage them and let them know what happened, and let them know what the real meaning is of 9/11,” he said.
At the start of the ceremony, Lyman Hall Principal Claire Blanchard explained the history of the Freedom Walk.
According to Blanchard, the Freedom Walk was started in 2005 by a group of Pentagon employees who wanted to commemorate the lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nearly 15,000 people took part in the first walk, which went from the Pentagon to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The America Supports You Freedom Walk has grown every year since, with walks taking place across the country. The walk not only remembers the victims of the attacks, but also honors the first responders and service personnel who serve the nation and its communities every day.
As a part of the ceremony, Lyman Hall fifth-grader Latoya Monique Frasier read her essay, “My Hero,” which she wrote about her father.
Following the remarks, the Lyman Hall Flag Unit laid a wreath in front of the school’s flagpole, and a moment of silence was held in honor of the fallen.
“It’s about our community coming together as a whole in support of our first responders, those who have died, those who serve now,” Blanchard said about Patriot’s Day, which Sept. 11 has come to be called.
Blanchard also reminded the crowd of the far-reaching impact the attacks had on the community. Parent Involvement Facilitator Lavonia LeCounte, who organized the first Lyman Hall Freedom Walk in 2008, had a son in the Pentagon on 9/11, Blanchard said.
“They’ve learned about it this week,” Blanchard said of the elementary students, none of whom were alive in 2001 when the attacks occurred. She said that she had found an age-appropriate video that taught them about the event, and that the children were respectful of the ceremony’s gravity.
“They talk about (the ceremony),” she said. “They think this is a really exciting and awesome event.”