Johnston County 9/11 ceremony seeks to remember, but also to educate

(Lauren Haviland/CBS North Carolina)

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — At one Johnston County high school, the Sept. 11th memorial service was about not only remembering those who lost their lives, but also about education.

Hundreds of students, first responders and veterans gathered inside Smithfield-Selma’s gym, Monday.

Most of the students were not born yet when the largest terrorist attack in American history happened 16 years ago.

“It’s really important for us to bring awareness,” Sanjuana Antonio-Olguin, a student and ROTC member, said.

Antonio-Olguin told CBS North Carolina she understands it’s a part of history that should never be forgotten.

“We may not know exactly what happened or the details to it, but we have to start somewhere, teaching them why we do it and why it’s so important,” she added.

Michael Wegman, a teacher and Senior Naval instructor, said, “They get a sense for what 9/11 was all about. Like I like to tell my students, 9/11 is probably to them what Pearl Harbor is to me.”

During the ceremony, different members of the student body played ‘Taps,’ saluted the American flag and led their classmates through the tragic events in 2001.

“I’d really like for them to have a sense of pride about the fact that their school takes time to pause,” Wegman said.

Antonio-Olguin said the ceremony is one reason she joined the ROTC program.

“Watching the flag being raised and the whole ‘Taps’ player playing, and the whole speech given it really motivated me to really try and be a part of it,” she said.

The high school has been holdinga similar ceremony since 2002, and officials said they plan to continue it in the years to come.


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