Westminster students remember 9-11
By By Angie Hood
Students at Westminster Christian Academy's Madison-Monrovia campus held a special flag ceremony on the one-year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks to remember those who died, those who served and for those who continue to serve in our nations military efforts overseas and abroad.
The "Salute to God and Country" service included the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong.
The kindergarten through sixth grade students had spent the week before the service learning and thinking about Christian service and sacrifice. Principal Abby Alexander told those assembled at the ceremony how important it was to pay honor the men and women who served so bravely on Sept. 11 and in the days that followed, and for those who had served his country in the past.
The grandfather of three WCA students, Pastor Charlie Edgar, led the children, parents and friends in prayer. Pastor Edgar's grandchildren are Meg, Zachary and Ben Willis.
Wearing red, white and blue T-shirts, more than 221 students circled the flagpole with the flag flying at half-staff as directed by President George Bush and Governor Don Siegelman. The school sang the chorus of God Bless America.
Fifth grader Paul Wiersma was chosen by his classmates to carry his class' American flag to the ceremony.
"I was happy that my class chose me to carry the flag," Wiersma said. "I was also very surprised. I felt like I was doing something good. I'm glad that the school did that. I think it was a nice thing to do for the people who died on that day."
The children in all the grades created a "Wall of Remembrance" filled with patriotic drawings, written prayers, and quotes from famous Americans. The main hall of the school was filled with "Generations of Courage" red, white and blue banners hung from the ceiling. The banners were created by the first grade classes with each one having a picture and story of courage on it. They wrote about members of their families who have served their country during war, or who have served courageously in other ways.
For his banner, Jacob Mahafza wrote about his cousin Floyd C. Jarnagin who fought in the Gulf War on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mahafza said he chose to tell about his cousin because he was in the Navy on a boat.
"He was brave and had a trust in God," Mahafza said.
Jarnagin served his country 21 years, with more than 15 years of service on aircraft carriers. Jarnagin was aboard he Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier providing protection to the country of Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Storm.
Mahafza said the flagpole ceremony was special to him.
"I liked praying to God," Mahafza said.
For sixth grader Faith Ryder the day's ceremony and singing God Bless America had special meaning for her because her father David Ryder was in Washington on Sept. 11 of last year for a meeting at the Pentagon.
"He was really close to the Pentagon that day, in a building nearby," Ryder said. "He came home safe but he had a lot of friends who died in the Pentagon. We used to live in Washington and my parents worked exactly where the plane hit. We're really grateful that we moved. I think it was very nice of our school to do that ceremony. It was a great time to think about how lucky we are and that it was really sad that those people died that day."