Students commemorate Sept. 11

Published 12:28 am Saturday, September 10, 2011

Seven-year-old Itzel Ortiz points to the red white and blue balloons the school released into the sky at Frazier Primary School's 9/11 commemoration Friday morning.

NATCHEZ — Frazier Primary School children that were gathered around the school playground looked up, clapped and screamed when it came time at Friday’s 9/11 ceremony to release dozens of red, white and blue balloons.

After engaging an audience of first and second graders in few verses of “If you’re happy and you know it,” Natchez Fire Marshall Aaron Wesley spoke about how the children’s joy demonstrates why those who serve the United States love their country.

Wesley said 343 firemen, 23 police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers lost their lives on 9/11, but their dedication demonstrates the greatness of the United States.

Jada Minor shades herself with one of the homemade American flags the students made for Frazier's commemoration.

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“Regardless of what happened…(those who serve) do it for you all,” Wesley said.

Stacey Owens, an AmeriCorps teaching assistant said Frazier has participated in a 9/11 memorial ceremony for years.

“It’s a tribute to veterans,” Owens said.

Frazier physical education teacher, Natchez High School football coach and Army veteran Nickie Davis also spoke to the students at the ceremony about serving in two tours of Iraq.

Davis admitted he was scared during both tours he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but he knew why he was willing to make the sacrifice.

“I served so students and teachers could drive their cars on the streets of the free and the brave,” Davis said.

He said making the transition from the military to education was an easy one because he felt he was still serving the same mission.

“It’s a (different) opportunity to serve and give back,” Davis said. “By educating kids (he’s) giving back to the country.”

Among other speakers, Erle Drane, the director of Adams County veteran’s services spoke about his experience in the Army.

Seven-year-old Jordan Sanders, who was dressed in jeans and a patriotic-colored shirt, like all the other students, said he liked hearing about the Army and Air Force the best at the ceremony.

Sanders’ teacher, Jennifer Matthews, said the annual event ensures students who weren’t born during the attacks learn about the history to understand their impact.

“It’s important,” Matthews said.

Veterans and first responders including police, paramedics and firemen attended the walk, which was given in their honor.