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Patriot's Day ceremony recognizes 10th anniversary of 9-11 attacks

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A color guard retires the colors following a Highland High School ceremony to remember victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and honor the first responders who risked their lives to help victims. American Legion Post 346 has sponsored the Patriot Day ceremonies for the past ten years.
As it has for the past ten years, American Legion Post 346 in Cherokee Village, sponsored a Patriot Day Ceremony, on Friday, Sept. 9, to remember the victims and honor first responders who risked and gave their lives after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 10th anniversary ceremony at Highland High School was led by American Legion Commander Dick Sackett.

"We held the first observances in Cherokee Village," said Sackett, "but we decided to move the ceremony to the high school, because children need to understand 9-11 did not end with the attacks ten years ago."

In his remarks to students, Sackett warned the fight against terrorism "will be a haunting issue for your generation to contain, cope and live in spite of this war."

Sackett recognized Sharp County police, fire and EMS personnel who attended the event, and encouraged students to become first responders and help protect their community in emergencies.

State Representative Linda Collins-Smith asked students where they were when the terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2000.

Collins-Smith added, even if they were too young to remember the actual attacks, the students surely know 9-11 from television video, photographs and the homeland security programs that were launched after the attacks.

As traumatic as 9-11 was, and still is, Collins-Smith said, "9-11, in so many ways, brought out the best in us. For a short period of time, we forgot the issues and disagreements that divide us. We forgot the politics. We forgot racial divisions. We forgot religious differences. We stood together strong and united, as Americans.

Collins-Smith urged the students to work "to keep alive this wonderful thing we call patriotism."

The state representative said firefighters, police officers, emergency medical workers and elected officials are true patriots who "have decided they are willing to place their own lives in jeopardy to try to save the lives and property of others whenever disasters occur here in our communities."

Collins-Smith remembers thinking, "Thank God we live in rural America," when she learned of the 9-11 attacks. But she quickly realized that many in our area had friends and relatives in New York City, Washington D.C. and other urban areas terrorists find attractive.

9-11 directly affected Collins-Smith when her son joined the Marines and her nephew joined the Army, to help preserve American freedoms.

"And so, young people, I challenge you to be patriots," said Collins-Smith. "Others may choose to live their lives only for themselves and what they accumulate or how much money and property they may acquire. But, I challenge you to put the well being of others above your own personal comfort, and the love of our great country above the love of your own personal fortunes. I challenge you to be patriots."

The Patriot Day Ceremony ended with the playing of taps, and the retiring of the colors.

Students seemed to listen intently during the ceremony.

"It has been rewarding," said Sackett of ten years of being involved in the patriot event.

Many area churches also took time to remember 9-11 victims and heroic first responders during their services on Sunday, Sept. 11.

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