DCHS Seniors joined the Woodmen of the World in a 911 honor and remembrance ceremony Monday at the high school.
The program paid tribute to the heroes and victims of September 11, 2001 as well as the members of the military, both current and past, who selflessly protect America's freedoms and liberty. And on a local level, the ceremony extended gratitude to those who safeguard our community, the firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders who put their lives on the line for our safety.
Wanda Poss, President of the local Woodmen of the World Family Fraternity, opened the ceremony with welcoming remarks followed by an Invocation from David Gash, Assistant DCHS Principal. The Smithville Fire Department's Honor Guard posted a new flag set (colors), presented to them by the local Woodmen members as Victoria Vincent sang the National Anthem.
"Since 2002, Woodmen of the World members across the country have been dedicating flagpoles and presenting flags, not only to honor the heroes and victims of September 11, 2001 but also the men and women of our Armed Forces serving in combat," said Regina Wilhite, Field Representative for Woodmen of the World. "In addition, these ceremonies pay tribute to the men and women in this community who risk their lives daily to keep us safe, police officers, fire fighters, and emergency rescue personnel and other First Responders. They all deserve our thanks and admiration," she said.
"Nearly 5,000 dedications to these individuals, in special ceremonies as this, have been held by Woodmen of the World. We can think of no more special way to honor these brave men and women than by the sight of the American flag flying proudly. Since 1947, we have presented more than 2 million American flags to community-based organizations across this nation," said Wilhite.
Rochelle Cordova, Fraternal Coordinator for Woodmen of the World, said the ceremony Monday also served as a rededication of the flagpole outside the school to the memory of the late Sergeant Shannon Taylor and Private First Class Billy Gene Anderson from DeKalb County who lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. "It is fitting that we rededicate the flagpole outside your school today to local heroes Sgt, Shannon Taylor and PFC Billy Anderson. Our nation's flag atop the pole serves as a symbol of the enduring spirit of all Americans," she said.
"It is with great pride that we rededicate the flagpole to Billy, Shannon, and to all of America's heroes and victims. The commemorative plaques at the base of the pole bears their names and the other reads: "In Honor and Remembrance of the heroes and victims in the fight against terrorism and to celebrate the enduring spirit of all Americans," said Cordova
A brief flashlight flag ceremony was then held in which bearers of an American Flag passed Old Glory over the heads of the seated senior class. Flashlight bearers in the class turned on flashlights and directed the light toward flag as it passed over them. " What you see here represents the past, present, and future," said Cordova. " The stripes of Old Glory stand for the original thirteen colonies. The stars represent the present 50 states. The light and warmth of the four lights you see shining remind us of the four great freedoms - Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. Eliminate any one of these freedoms and our world would become darker and colder," she said. All then joined in the pledge of allegiance.
For their participation in the ceremony, Woodmen of the World presented the DCHS Senior class a new American flag for the school. In addition, a Flag of honor was presented to the school by Woodmen of the World, created from the names of those who perished on 911. "Hidden in the red and blue stripes, in tiny print so they would fit on this 3' x 5' flag, are nearly three thousand names of every victim that fell on 911," said Cordova. That day (911) impacted us all and its important that we remember the events of that day and that we continue to have that feeling of patriotism that we've had since 911," she added.