Hundreds of students and their parents formed a long, silent walking line Wednesday morning, slowly winding around Charter Oak Elementary School.
As they circled the Belton Independent School District campus, students and their parents solemnly held flags, signs and poppy flowers.
This procession of kids and adults — similar to walks that took place at other Belton and Temple elementary schools — was part of the school’s Patriot Day walk. This Freedom Walk honored those who died 18 years ago during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, on top of celebrating Texas First Responders Day.
The day’s activities started off with a talk by Maj. Carl S. Miller from the 49th Transportation Battalion at Fort Hood to the students, followed by the walk around the school and the singing of patriotic songs by the students.
The event was organized by school counselor Brittany Shiller. In addition to remembering Sept. 11, Shiller wanted students to come closer together as a school since this is the first year the campus has been open.
“Our teachers in the classroom have talked to them about being patriotic, and living in America,” Shiller said. “I (and our school) felt like it is very important for our students to remember and honor those people who have served our country. What I have really been trying to instill in the kids is really a sense of community and culture at our new campus year.”
For students such as Caleb Eckert, 9, the message of honoring those who have sacrificed for their country resonated particularly strong.
“(We look back) because it was a sad day, and it (is) a very important day to remember all the people who lost their family and lost their lives,” Caleb said.
Parents were allowed to join the walk and other activities with their children.
While parents were alive during the attacks in 2001, their children were not. This has left parents with the responsibility to teach their kids about what happened, while helping learn lessons from the attacks.
For father, and veteran, Clayton Docker, emphasizing the values and what was learned as a result of Sept. 11 was more important than focusing on just the event itself.
“I want service and sacrifice, at least for my children, to be two of the biggest values that they understand about 9/11,” Docker said.