UNION — Remembering the past while preparing for the future was the message the guests at Foster Park Elementary School’s 9/11 commemoration ceremony delivered to the school’s students Tuesday.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 members of the Al-Qaida terrorist organization hijacked four airplanes. They crashed two of the planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and a third into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania during an attempt by the passengers to overpower the terrorists. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attack.
Eleven years later, the students and staff of Foster Park Elementary School gathered in the school parking lot for what Principal Barbara Palmer said was a ceremony remembering those who died that day and honoring those who, in the years since, have worked to protect their country from further attacks.
She said remembering 9/11 and those that died that day and those who have continue to sacrifice themselves in defense of their country is important to America and its future.
“We are a strong nation and need to keep faith in who we are and what we stand for as a nation,” Palmer said. “I think remembering the past and what we lost, helps us keep this in perspective. “
The ceremony included the raising of the American flag by the school’s Cub Scouts, a musical presentation by the fourth-grade students, a tour of a fire truck and EMS vehicle by the school’s kindergarten and first-grade students as well as speeches by local officials.
Among those addressing the ceremony was Union County Sheriff David Taylor who told students that 9/11 was one of those days the people who lived through them will never forget.
“It was a day you never forget, a day you remember where you were when it happened,” Taylor said. “It was like when President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember where I was when I heard about it, I was in school in West Springs.
“That’s the same way with the 9/11 attacks,” he said. “I was driving up I-26 in a Spartanburg County truck when I heard about it. I turned around and went back to my office, turned on the TV and set there pretty much the rest of the day getting the details of what had happened. It was one of those days in life that you’ll always remember.”
Taylor also spoke about responsibility and accountability in life.
“The people who carried out that tragic act have been held responsible for their deeds and actions have had to give an account for it,” Taylor said. “In life you’re going to have responsibilities, you’re going to be held accountable for your actions, that’s all part of growing up.”
Taylor urged the students to embrace responsibility as they grow up and become responsible adults who will make a positive contribution to their community and their country. He urged them to be accountable for their actions and to always make sure that the things they do in life are things they, their parents, teacher, community and country can be proud of.
Union Public Safety Director Sam White also spoke about remembering 9/11, but he also urged students to focus on their future.
“It’s been 11 years since that tragic event, a day that many people lost their lives,” White said. “While that should be remembered, you should think even more about the future.”
White told the students that 11 years from now some of them might be serving in the military, protecting their country on a daily basis. Regardless of the path they choose, White urged the students to prepare for the day when they will leave school and be ready to successfully assume the responsibilities that come with being an adult.
“Study hard and take advantage of every educational opportunity so that no matter the career path you choose you will be an effective citizen,” White said. “Always stand up for America and always do what is right.”