The DeSoto County School District’s Parent Advisory Council turned its Tuesday meeting this week into a special program to honor victims and those who helped in the aftermath of the terror attacks on the day in September 2001 now known as “9/11.”
The highlight of the meeting, which featured music, readings and speeches, was the burial of a time capsule that is filled with letters of thanks from students at each of the schools in the state’s largest school district.
Mayor Patti Denison of Walls spoke and told of her reaction to the events of Sept. 11, the crash of the planes into the World Trade Center and the other terror events of that day.
“The emotion, the fear, the sadness, the anger that later turned into relief and even joy, as we watched stories of amazing rescues and survivals,” Denison said. “What I remember the most was the feeling of unity and pride that our country had and pride we had to be an American. What was intended for evil that day turned just opposite because it brought us together.”
Unity seemed to be the theme for the program and the comments and readings that were presented, including the closing reading from Lake Cormorant Middle School student Marcellus Odum, who read Maya Angelou’s “Alone,” which included the lines, “Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.”
Colin Wilson, a firefighter for the Southaven Fire Department, also spoke on how he saw 9/11 as a tragic event but one that has a positive impact, even in the face of tragedy.
“I believe those events changed the outlook of our country for the better,” Wilson said. “And I believe they changed the course of my life for the better.”
Wilson said he was in sixth grade when the events of Sept. 11, 2001 happened and his class listened to radio accounts of the day.
“We all kind of huddled around our teacher and she helped us understand what was going on and how to deal with it,” Wilson said. “We saw people at their worst, but we also saw people at their best.”
Wilson also pointed out the unity he saw in the nation in the aftermath of the tragedy, noting, “I remember how great that felt. In that moment, people cared about each other, people put aside their differences and just loved on another.”
Rob Chase, DeSoto County Schools Chief of Operations, said honoring the ultimate sacrifice of those whose lives were lost 17 years ago was the main purpose for the program.
“What this day is, at the end of the day, is about the 3,000-plus people who died,” Chase said.
At the end of the program inside the DCS Board Room, the group went outside to the front of the building where the time capsule was buried. Prior to that part of the program, a student representative from each school walked up to the time capsule as their names were read and inserted a letter of thanks into it.
Chase said later there may be plans for a marker there, but there are no plans at this time to set a future date for it to be uncovered, adding, “these things usually drop 2-3 feet after a few years, so they’ll need a metal detector to find it.”
With the simple act of inserting letters of thanks into the ground, DeSoto County school children Tuesday paid respect to those Americans who gave of their lives that horrific September day 17 years ago.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.