POWHATAN – Powhatan Middle School students and staff honored the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 1, 2001, with a special Patriot Day Flag Ceremony held on Friday on the 19th anniversary of the tragedy.
The remembrance event involved a special flag ceremony put on by Scouts BSA Troops 1823 and 1833 and the middle school’s eighth-grade band. Firefighters from Company 1 also attended the ceremony. This was the second year the middle school has honored the fallen in this way.
Because of social distancing requirements, only a small group of people attended the outside event, but it was recorded and shared with students during the day, said Samantha Martin, principal, after the ceremony was held.
While troop members raised the flags, the band played the National Anthem. The flag ceremony was led by Boy Scout Cody Seibel, a troop patrol leader, and Drew Quinn, Scout Master for Troop 1833. Cody led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance and Quinn read a description of the Freedom Flag, which was adopted as the official Virginia flag of remembrance for 9/11.
During the school day, all middle school students, whether they are virtual or hybrid, were asked to watch the video during the Academic and Community Connection Time (ACCT), Martin said. Then at 8:46 a.m., the time that the first tower was struck, students and staff paused for the reading of the presidential proclamation and a moment of silence.
“It is particularly important to us now at the middle school because these students were not born in 2001, so they don’t understand or grasp the impact that it has for us who were alive during that time. So we really make a point of making sure they understand the history of 9/11, what occurred, how it impacted the everyday lives of everybody within the United States that day and the lasting impact it has had for us,” she said.
Even when the middle school had all students present at one time, it was a tradition to read the presidential proclamation, Martin said. Although the attacks occurred before they were born, the students seem to grasp the enormity of this event on American history, and “the adults in the building will always note you can hear a pin drop in the building during that time.”
The Scouting groups have appreciated participating in the ceremony for the last two years because it gives a sense of what America is about – patriotism, giving respect to first responders, and honoring the victims of 9/11, said Jamie Rowland, assistant Scout Master for Troop 1823. He hopes the students understood that when they watched the recording of the ceremony later that day.
“I hope they get a sense of what America is about. I hope they get a sense of the sacrifices folks made on 9/11. And then them seeing our Scouts taking a leadership role in performing the ceremony,” he said.
Dr. Eric Jones, superintendent, said the flag ceremony was one of several ways the division chose to remember 9/11 last week with educational activities. He felt the ceremony was an important way to bring together members of the community and for students to learn about the day and the history behind it.
“It is important to continue to do these types of ceremonies and continue the educational activities, because none of these students were alive when it happened. It was 19 years ago,” Jones said. “It is vitally important because it was such a momentous day in our country’s history. A lot of people lost their lives as a result. A lot of families were touched, including many in Powhatan.”
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.