Commemorative flag flies at schoolyard on RAF Feltwell
RAF FELTWELL, England — The flag that spent a few minutes Monday flying above the school grounds at Lakenheath Middle School has a history.
It was raised above the Pentagon on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as part of the memorial service for those who lost their lives when a hijacked airplane slammed into the building.
The flag is now on a tour of Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe, where it will be hoisted for all to see at each stop.
“It’s about remembering the people who died on Sept. 11,” said Ashley Erwin, 14, an eighth-grader and president of the Student Council.
As the flag was raised Monday by members of the Air Force Junior ROTC from Lakenheath High School, the 700 members of the student body and staff watched while the middle school band played “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Some of the students carried small flags. They stood grouped by class while a brilliant English sun lit the scene.
“You can’t trust anybody,” said Mindy Birch, 14, when the eighth- grader was asked for the lesson of Sept. 11.
David Aaron was hoping for something more positive. The history teacher organized Monday’s ceremony and had asked teachers to spend time ahead of Monday’s ceremony discussing events of Sept. 11, 2001, and how they have affected the world and America.
“I want some tolerance to come out of this,” he said. “I don’t want Sept. 11 to be a club to beat up Muslims.”
He stressed that Americans are survivors, not victims of the events 16 months ago. And, he added, the attack was carried out by a radical few, not all of Islam.
“Patriotism doesn’t have to mean prejudice,” he said.
He said some of the students in his sixth-grade history class now are mostly concerned with the possibility of war with Iraq.
“Others are able to distinguish between the tragedy of Sept. 11 and anything that is aimed at Saddam Hussein,” he said.
Jannett Klinke, the school principal, said studies after the terrorist attacks showed that elementary pupils were mostly shielded from the events and high school students were mature enough to make their own conclusions.
But middle school pupils had a hard time understanding, she said.
“We had planned [the lessons] for one session and teachers were finding they had to take two or three days,” Klinke said. “There were so many issues to discuss.”
Aaron’s hope for a positive lesson did come through.
Mindy also said the events of Sept. 11, 2001, have made America stronger.
“We can get through tough times,” she said.
Her friend, Sarah Mills, 13, said, “I believe we’ve gotten stronger. It’s made us remember we need to be awake.”