The majority of those sitting in the auditorium at Cousins Middle School on Friday morning weren’t alive when planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 15 years ago.
Special services held at Cousins Middle School to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon brought events of Sept. 11, 2001 into focus for students who had not lived through the events. With representatives from the military and Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Cousins Middle School students, joined by other Newton County middle school classes, heard bells ringing at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Special music, a litany of remembrance and the laying of a red, white and blue wreath by Newton County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Johnny Robinson were all part of the memorial service. A slide show of images from the day showed the planes hitting the two towers and the subsequent collapse of both World Trade Center buildings intercut with images of the Pentagon and patriotic symbols.
Retired Brigadier General Steven E. Blanton, of Social Circle, gave the keynote address. He said, “On 9-11, 2001, our country was deliberately and cowardly attacked without much cause by an enemy who tested our existence.”
Referencing the Islamic State Iran and Syria (ISIS), he said, “We’re involved in a new kind of war that has no borders, no front- or rear lines and often no where to find the enemy. The global war on terror has been with us for 15 years. The will of our people is being tested with each and every attack.”
He then began to read names of people killed during the attacks, “just a few of the thousands who perished that awful day, Sept. 11. Today, we want to honor the memory of all those who died on 9-11, 2001.”
Blanton quoted the late General George C. Marshall, a World War II general, saying, “It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue.”
Referencing the “greatest generation,” those who fought World War II, Blanton said, “I want to speak to today’s youth, you children sitting in the stand. You are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of that greatest generation. We found ourselves facing a greater challenge then we faced on Dec. 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
“The struggle we face today is in many ways more daunting,” he said. “This group called ISIS is raining terror down around the world … Today’s students have the opportunity to become the next greatest generation. Now it’s your turn to answer the call and defend freedom.”
As she dismissed those assembled, Dr. Makeba Clark, principal at Cousins Middle School reiterated Blanton’s call to service after completing high school, either in the military or in their communities.
after completing high school, either in the military or in their communities.