Students remember 9/11 attacks, sacrifices made in War on Terror
KADENA AIR BASE -- Certain events throughout U.S. history have left their marks on the fabric of the nation and forever altered the American mind-set. The Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into World War II. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks plunged the nation into a Global War on Terrorism.
Students and staff of Kadena High School held the 12th annual Patriot Day Remembrance Ceremony Sept. 11 at Kadena Air Base in remembrance of the victims of the horrendous attacks and the sacrifices made during the years of conflict that have followed.
The ceremony’s theme “Because of the Brave,” featured several patriotic songs performed by the school choir and remarks from a guest speaker.
“It is important to recognize the importance of this day in our history and its importance to our country,” said retired Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Taylor, the guest speaker for the event and Kadena H.S. history teacher. “Throughout our history and in the subsequent years following the 9/11 terror attacks, it was because of the brave, and their willingness to risk life and limb to do what is right for others, that we have been able to enjoy the freedoms that we hold so dear.”
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Pennsylvania killed 2,977 people and injured more than 6,000.
“My first year in Okinawa teaching at Kadena H.S. was in 2002,” said Timothy M. Black, the director of choral music, Kadena H.S. “I personally felt that there needed to be some sort of remembrance ceremony to remember those that lost their lives.
“At the time the country was still in mourning and still reeling from the attack,” added Black. “We did not know what was going to happen on that first anniversary, and I did not know how my idea was going to be received.”
The high school held a remembrance ceremony that year, and it became a tradition for the students and staff, according to Black.
“Out of 80 students that are participating in this concert, 20 students have been through another (Patriot Day) concert prior to this one,” said Black. “They knew what was required of them, and they looked forward to it.”
Many of the students began their preparation for the ceremony before the beginning of the school year.
“Most of the choir in the performance gave up about two weeks of their summer to come together, practice and get to know the songs better,” said Victoria Jones, a Kadena H.S. choir member.
Mastering the songs allowed the audience to become more involved, according to Caitlynne Dalton, a Kadena H.S. choir member. The audience’s reaction made the choir members’ effort worth it.
“Watching those reactions (lets us see) that we are giving the audience a chance to remember and pay respect in a way that they may not normally have,” said Dalton. “That really struck home two years ago, after the guest speaker finished speaking. We were watching the audience and most had tears in their eyes or were crying. It was a beautiful and moving experience.”
Most of the students attending the school are children of active-duty service members in the U.S. military.
“When I think about when my father leaves for a deployment it is sad,” said Jones. “I know it is worth it though because when he gets home I know that we are safe in part due to his efforts.”
The sacrifices made by those who have served allowed the students to give back in their own way, according to Black.
“The overarching theme for all years is to never forget,” said Black. “The seniors started their schooling the first year that the global war on terrorism started, and now they are graduating. They have been reminded constantly throughout their schooling that America is the land of the free. I want not only the students, but also the audience to remember that it is because of the brave.”