Franklin students gather to commemorate 9/11
(FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL -- Sept. 11, 2019) — Hundreds of students gathered in the Franklin main gym before school started on Wednesday to honor and remember the victims killed on a September morning just like that one 18 years ago.
The ceremony helped students mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terroristic attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. That event, known by most as 9/11 changed America forever.
First responders, veterans and active servicemen and women joined with the students for the ceremony to hear words of healing, hope and honor. The students – most of whom were born after 9/11 – recognized and thanked them for their service by offering them “Cookies for Courage.”
“It's always good to reflect, to remember and then look forward because it provides us hope for the future,” said Ret. Col. Leonard Wells, an EPISD JROTC facilitator. “We become more united and stronger as a city, and as a nation.”
As keynote speaker, Wells expressed the importance of ceremonies that commemorate 9/11, an event that killed nearly 3,000 people. As an active-duty officer during the attacks, he was able to speak on the call many people like himself had to protect our country.
“We want to remain vigilant and understanding of what happened, process what happened, and then also continued with the improvements that we made in our country,” he said. “We don’t want to allow history to repeat itself.”
Franklin’s band, orchestra, choir, student council, National Honor Society, dance team and cheerleaders joined with their peers at the ceremony offering thanks to the visiting veterans and first responders.
“I really like being part of the ceremony because you see the community come together,” said Delilah Hernandez, Air Force JROTC Squadron Commander. “I’m thankful for everyone who came today. It was a huge success and we really appreciate it.”
This year’s commemoration also recognized the victims of the Cielo Vista Walmart shooting during 40 seconds of silence – 18 for the number of years since the tragic day and another 22 to honor those killed Aug. 3.
“It doesn't matter if it was 18 years ago when tragedy hit our country, or just this past August when it hit our community … I think that this ceremony was really great because we were able to bring together the community and show that we truly are El Paso Strong,” said student organizer junior Elenor Schoenbrun.
After the 40 seconds silence, the orchestra and choir joined together for a solemn rendition of Amazing Grace.
“It was just a really bittersweet moment for students to come together and remember what happened on 9/11 and just to honor those who served our country,” Schoenbrun said.
The commemoration extended into the day as student council members visited first responders to deliver their Cookies for Courage to honor and thank them for their service.
“It's just a little way that we can honor our local veterans, our fire station and our first responders in the community,” Schoenbrun said. “We want to show them how much we truly care and how much we appreciate them for always being able to be there for us.”
Photos by Leonel Monroy