On the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, Walton County School District pauses to remember the events of that tragic day, as well as honor the victims and the heroism of first responders. Across the district, students took time to reflect with special Morning Show tributes, guest visits, moments of silence, and classroom activities designed to ensure that the events of this day are remembered, honored and retold.
South Walton High School held a special student assembly at which time the Seahawk band played the National Anthem, several students presented essays and speeches, and guest speakers presented thoughts and sentiments on the event. A video produced by Zach Green, TV Production student, was shared with the students as a way to help them understand the impact of 9/11.
Guest speaker, SWHS teacher John McCoy, shared the experience from the perspective of someone who was actually in downtown New York City at the time the World Trade Center was hit. He shared some of the immediate reactions of the onlookers at the horror of what was taking place, and stated that we all need to "enjoy what we have. We can't take it for granted. We have to remember that at any moment our lives can change."
Bobby Escamilla, SWHS band director shared what it was like as an 11 year old who went to school that day expecting to celebrate his birthday with cupcakes for himself and all his classmates. He said that the full impact of the tragedy didn't hit him until the following day when he saw all the news coverage beginning to come in. Mr. Escamilla challenged the students to "not forget that love unites. At that time, we were all united in love because we were Americans. Nothing else mattered".
Dr. Tibbetts, SWHS principal, shared how for several days in the aftermath of the attack, airplanes bound for America had to land in other locations around the world for security purposes, and the people of those countries took care of the Americans on those planes as they were waiting to return to the United States. "America really came together, and so did the whole world, to help us."
District Chief of the South Walton Fire District, Corey Harned, spoke about the shock of seeing the events unfold via media sources. "There were 2,997 people that lost their lives on 9/11. 412 of them were emergency responders. 412 people gave the ultimate sacrifice for people they didn't event know." Continuing, Officer Harned shared "We have to train our hearts to loved and to be loved, because if we don't, the same hate that filled the hearts of that handful of people who flew those planes into the buildings can creep into the void...if there is no love." He followed up by sharing with the students that there are so many different kinds of things they can do to share love with others as "part of the training...training your heart to love and be loved."