Most of the children in attendance at Wednesday’s 9/11 observance were not even born when America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
About 200 children from three area schools joined 100 others at the 9/11 Memorial in Havelock for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment 12 years ago that the first hijacked airliner struck the World Trade Center in a terrorist attack on the nation.
Despite not being alive when the attacks happened, the older students in the crowd seemed to have settled on a meaning of this day of remembrance.
“It’s a day of solidarity for the nation and we need to celebrate it together,” said Taylor Gray, an eighth-grader from Annunciation Catholic School in Havelock.
Gray said Wednesday was a day that the country needed to thank all of the firefighters and police officers, along with all the others, who died on that fateful day. She also said all of the servicemen and women who have died during the war on terror that has gone on since the attacks needed to be recognized as well.
Havelock Police Chief G. Wayne Cyrus spoke briefly as a bright sun warmed those attending the observance.
“We should never ever forget that event that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001,” Cyrus told the crowd.
The 110 Annunciation students that came sang “America the Beautiful,” while 67 children from Arthur W. Edwards Elementary School waved small American flags.
“This was all student organized. The students decided what they were going to sing,” said Jody Fennell, a language arts teachers and director of student life at Annunciation.
Fennell said he was impressed at the number of people who came out to the observance.
“Part of it is the community that we live in,” he said, referencing nearby Cherry Point. “Many people are in the military or in public safety and many of the kids have military parents. It hits these kids in the community close to home.”
Cyrus said he appreciated those who attended the observance.
“I thought we had a great turnout, which I think is indicative of how important our citizens still feel about the event,” Cyrus said after the event.
Havelock resident Norman Girard wore a shirt with the saying “Remember the Heroes.”
“I take it out once a year,” he said.
He took note of the students who attended the event.
“Some of these kids weren’t even born yet,” he said. “They are the ones that have to remember it. It’s a solemn observance, something that should be remembered every year. Many people have died and others have passed on since, some defending our freedom. It’s a day we need to remember.”
The group gathered around the circular monument that the city of Havelock and a host of volunteers created near the Harrier display next to the city’s Public Safety Building. In the center of the circle is a piece of steel from the fallen World Trade Center, plus stone from the Pentagon and rock from the ground at Shanksville, Pa. It was completed in 2012 to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died during the attacks.
“I happened to be in New York when 9/11 happened,” said Marcella Albanese, a native New Yorker who now lives in Havelock. “The sky was blue. Then it turned gray. You knew that those were our American people that were killed. It just crushed me.”
Albanese, who spent more than 13 years in the Marine Corps, is married to a Marine who served more than 32 years. They have four sons on active duty in the armed services.
“We are a complete military family,” Albanese said. “That’s why we chose to live in Havelock.”
Havelock resident Michele Courtney described the observance as “very nice.”
“I was glad to see the big turnout,” she said. “I loved hearing the children sing. There’s no way you can forget the people that lost their lives.”