Most of the students at Dallas ISD’s John B. Hood Middle School hadn’t been born on Sept. 11, 2001, but they recognized the somberness of the occasion during a special commemoration ceremony.
Students, staff and parents gathered in front of the school at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
The annual event – in its 13th year – honors those who lost their lives in the 2001 terrorist attacks, but also celebrates the fact that the freedom Americans enjoy is still intact. Principal Latonya Lockhart likened the country’s recovery to the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes. “On Sept. 11, 2015, our flag still flies,” she said.
The ceremony included a welcome from student Dominique Martinez, who was around the time of the 2001 attacks. She said the events of that day scared her mother, who at the time became worried for her daughter’s safety and future.
Guest speaker was Lt. Col. Frederick J. Holland, who leads the JROTC program at Thomas Jefferson High School. In 2001, Holland was active in the U.S. Army and working at an office in Washington, D.C., across the Potomac River from the Pentagon. He recalls seeing smoke rise from the building after an airliner was intentionally crashed into the building.
Holland also focused on the hope of freedom. He encouraged everyone in the crowd to high-five the person next to them and declare, “I’ve got your back.” He said, “I had you do that because you never know when you will need the person next to you.”
Other highlights of the event included:
- Members of the Symphonic Band played “God Bless America.”
- The Treble Varsity Choir sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
- The color guard of the Hood Leadership Cadet Corps (LCC) presented the colors and raised the flag.
- Student Joseph Perez-Soriano led the crowd in “The Pledge of Allegiance.”
- After the flag was returned to the top of its pole, student Alan Limon played “Taps” on the trumpet.
- Student Sarah Woods read “I Am The Flag,” which describes the U.S. flag’s history from its birth to today.
Jim Rodriguez, president and founder of the F.L.A.G. program, presented a flag to Daymon Salters, who directs the school’s LCC program. F.L.A.G. stands for “Fly, Lower, And Gather,” and is an educational program that aims to instill pride and respect in students by teaching them how to handle the U.S. flag in official ceremonies.