The somber trumpet notes of “Taps” rang outside of Middletown High School Friday, as the Appoquinimink School District held its annual 9/11 memorial ceremony.
About 200 members of the military, students and community members gathered to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed people in the Pentagon, Twin Towers and a field in Pennsylvania.
“This was such an incredible honor,” Lewis said. “Both of my grandparents served in the military and in the Air Force, so it’s really a great opportunity to do something I love in a meaningful way to honor others.”
Her hands continued to shake 10 minutes after the performance from nerves and excitement.
“Today’s ceremony helps us remember those who lost their lives not only in the crash, but the hundreds who risked their lives to save the victims,” Lewis said.
The ceremony included a 30-second moment of silence during which attendees bowed their heads in respect.
RELATED STORY: 9/11 in Delaware: 7 ways to honor those we lost
The morning also saw the raising of the 9/11 Remembrance Flag, which Appo was the first district in the state to adopt.
Since 2017, every Appo school has flown the flag, which is designed to contain several symbols.
While the ceremony was organized by Middletown High School’s Junior ROTC program, Master Sgt. Scott Saunders of Middletown Police Department said he wanted to make sure that officers from across the state showed out.
In attendance were officers from Middletown Police Department, Delaware State Police, New Castle County Police Department, Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, New Castle County Paramedics, New Castle County Division of Emergency Communications, Townsend Police Department, Delaware City Police Department, Capitol Police Department, Middletown Volunteer Hose Company, Delaware Probation and Parole and more.
Saunders was an officer in Philadelphia during the attacks of 9/11. That day, he was on the job for over 15 hours. His unit was on high alert and not allowed to go home to their families.
“It was a shock, but it was a reality,” Saunders said. “As long as we’re going to keep our freedom safe, we have to be vigilant. We have to be proactive instead of reactive.”
The majority of attendees at the school were students who were not alive during 9/11, he noted.
“The kids need to hear from us,” he said. “As an officer who served that day, we need to teach them, because how else would that day resonate with them?”
The patriotic poem “Old Glory,” which personifies the American Flag, was read to the crowd.
It ends with “I am proud. My name is Old Glory. Long may I wave, dear God… long may I wave.”
Ma’kael Jones, a tenth-grade JROTC student at Middletown, said he thought the ceremony went well.
“I’m happy I was a part of it,” he said. “We need to celebrate the heroes of that day and show respect to everybody that died that day and everybody that was there that day, especially because some people there are still hurting to this day.”
Sweighgbe Ellison, a classmate and JROTC peer of Jones, said the ceremony was moving.
“We have to remember them,” he said. “All those who died and were impacted by that day cannot be forgotten.”
More 9/11 ceremony events
- City of Newark’s Day of Service, Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon at Olan Thomas Park
- Dover Speedway Blood Drive, Monday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Dover Motor Speedway
- Milton 9/11 Memorial Tribute, Sunday, 8:30 a.m. at Milton Memorial Park
- Dover Air Force Base 9/11 Memorial Ceremony, Sunday, 10 a.m. at AMC Museum
- American Legion Post 28 Memorial Ceremony, Sunday, 6:30 p.m. at their pavilion on Legion Road
- Citizens’ Hose Co. 9/11 Service, Sunday, 7 p.m. at the firehouse on West Commerce Street
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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