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Blair Oaks students honor 9/11 first responders, victims

September 12, 2019 at 4:07 a.m. | Updated September 12, 2019 at 1:28 p.m.
The early morning sun continues to cast its glow on Blair Oaks students and staff as they form a large ring to encircle the nearly 3,000 flags placed in the ground in front of the high school. As in previous years, before the start of classes, Blair Oaks High School students hosted a remembrance ceremony to recall the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people, in their effort to make sure those events and lost lives are not forgotten. In addition to the flags, a wreath to recognize the loss of first responders was placed on a stand next to a large sign featuring a silhouette against the backdrop of an American flag with the words "Blair Oaks Remembers" painted on it.

The importance of remembering the sacrifices made by those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, was the focus of a ceremony Wednesday morning at Blair Oaks High School in Wardsville.

At 7:45 a.m., prior to the start of classes, students went to the front yard of the school to place small American flags in the ground to honor the 2,996 victims of the World Trade Center Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and those aboard a hijacked plane that crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"You see all the stickers that say 'Never Forget,' and this is our way of never forgetting," said Nathan Holtmeyer, who teaches history at Blair Oaks. "This senior class is the last class with anyone born in 2001. So after this, it's not in their lifetime. We don't want it to be something that students say, 'Oh, that back then.' This is still something affecting us today because we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's changed our nation."

Holtmeyer also serves with Operation Bugle Boy, a local nonprofit that honors current soldiers, veterans and first responders, and the organization encourages students to develop ongoing relationships with public servants in the community.

Junior class President Hannah Verslues told her fellow classmates: "Even the senior class won't be able to remember this day on their own, so it is  important that we talk about it and make sure ourselves and future generations realize what happened and the sacrifices that were made in response to such evil."

Verslues noted they also were honoring those first responders who died from complications caused by exposure to harmful materials while working to save lives on 9/11.

"These people represent true bravery," Verslues said. "While many ran for safety, they ran straight into the danger, knowing the risks."

Senior class President Caleb Meeks told his classmates: "They taught us through their actions that day what it means to be a hero. They showed us the tremendous value of duty, loyalty, self-sacrifice and love."


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