Junior ROTC Cadets Honor Sacrifices Of Sept. 11, 2001
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Although most cadets of the Greene County Junior ROTC program may not recall the harrowing events that took place 12 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, the cadets paid their respects to those somber events on Wednesday in a formal remembrance.
The Thomas Howard McNeese Educational Center, located on Hal Henard Road, houses the Greene County School System's ROTC program and was the site of Wednesday's ceremony.
Standing in quiet lines guarding the U.S. flag that flies in front of the building, 130 cadets from all four county high schools silently greeted those at the center around 8:40 a.m. -- "just before the first plane hit the first tower," explained Ret. Major David Wims, who heads the Greene County Junior ROTC program.
"We try to have it during that particular time," he said.
During the ceremony, Wims said he called on teachers to be mindful that most high school students today were very young when the attacks took place.
"The adults are going to remember it, as we do usually these tragic events," Wims said in a telephone interview later on Wednesday.
"But these young people who are in the Junior ROTC program ... they only know about 9/11 based on some little YouTube clip or a couple of photos that they've seen and that's really about it.
"So we already, 12 years after the event, have a group of young people -- who are growing close to be old enough to begin acting in society in leadership positions -- that truly have no ability to feel or understand how the world has changed since that time," Wims added.
"They've grown up in the world that has become the result of the 9/11 attacks," he said. "It's difficult for them to understand how different the world actually was prior to that."
During the ceremony Wednesday morning, cadets lowered the flag to half-staff and students listened to a recording of then-President George W. Bush's statement to the nation on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001.
The ceremony Wednesday concluded with West Greene High School Cadet First Lt. Kaleb Paxton, the squadron's vice commander, reading a poem, "One," authored by Cheryl Sawyer.
Squadron Commander Sianna Rogerson, a cadet captain from North Greene High School, planned the ceremony, Wims said.
Throughout the remainder of the school day, cadets took turns guarding the flag as it hung at half-staff.
GHS CADETS' OBSERVANCE
At Greeneville High School, Junior ROTC cadets raise a special flag to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Each year, cadets replace the Tennessee state flag with what they call a "Patriot's Flag." On Sept. 11 only, it flies at half-staff under the American flag.
The special flag was donated to the school approximately five years ago.