News: Students remember 9/11, celebrate freedom
Story by Sgt. Quentin Johnson
FORT HOOD, Texas— Hundreds of children, staff and parents, many donned in patriotic appeal and waving flags, filled the bleachers and with smiles on their faces sung Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Students at Smith Middle School, on Fort Hood, hosted a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony, sponsored by the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, for their students and staff on the Smith Middle School football field, Sept. 10.
The ceremony included a static display by the 1st Cav. Div. Horse Detachment, a brass quintet from the 1st Cav. Div. band, the battalion’s Color Guard, military vehicle displays and six guest speakers from the 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt.
The ceremony is an annual event for the school to commemorate the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation, explained Sandra Forsythe, principal for Smith Middle School.
“It’s just an opportunity to showcase pride, to continue to honor and respect our heroes today” said Forsythe.
She said she strives to instill that same pride into the students of her school.
For most children at Smith Middle School, they are too young to remember the events of 9/11, but learning about it is an opportunity for them to remember the sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives in response to the attack.
“We have to pass that memory on to them [children] because they don’t remember it,” said Capt. Caleb Ling, the narrator for the ceremony and assistant operations officer for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
According to, “It was an important day in our history,” said Lt. Col. Peter Sicoli, the battalion commander. “[One] that could never be forgotten.”
When thinking of the ceremony, Simeon Davis, 12, a student at Smith Middle School said he was sadden by the lives lost during 9/11 and has great respect for the heroes of that day.
Ling’s opening thoughts for the ceremony were twofold; remembrance of 9/11 and celebrating America’s armed forces.
Six soldiers were able to share pieces of their lives, careers and the pride they have in serving the country with the children.
In retrospect, the children cheered and applauded for the soldiers and sang songs to celebrate freedom and the military for which their parents serve.
“I got some energy today just seeing these kids out here singing, I really did. I felt a lot of pride,” said Sicoli.
That same pride and energy was felt by guest speaker, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Thiem, a targeting non-commissioned officer for HHC.
“It feels good to be able to come out and make some kind of connection with the kids, especially since their parents serve alongside us every day,” Thiem said.
The ceremony at Smith was just a prelude to two Killeen Independent School District annual events, a “Celebration of Freedom” activity and a “Freedom Walk” activity, said Forsythe.