School children across Bell County will commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks with freedom walks and parades Friday.
In Temple Independent School District, students at four elementary schools were asked to wear red, white and blue clothing for their walks. They also will gather to sing songs and listen to presentations.
Freedom walks are planned for students at Cater, Thornton, Kennedy-Powell and Raye-Allen elementary schools, TISD spokesman Jon Wallin said.
At 10:15 a.m., a Fort Hood unit will provide instruction to Edwards Academy students on flag etiquette.
In Belton, the public is invited to a celebration of heroes from 8 to 9:15 a.m. Friday at Sparta Elementary School, 1800 Sparta Road.
The celebration will begin with a patriot parade around the perimeter of the school to show appreciation for emergency responders and safety heroes in the community. Following the parade, students will hear a presentation about flag etiquette from members of the Belton High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC.
On Friday, Precious Memories Florist and Gift Shop, 1404 S. 31st St., will give away one half-dozen roses per customer while supplies last.
Seleese Thompson said she hopes the flowers will be shared in good will throughout the community. The shop has provided free flowers for 16 years as part of Good Neighbor Day as well as Patriot Day.
“We hope that the people of Temple and the Central Texas area will be able to get acquainted with new people or will renew an old friendship during Good Neighbor Day,” Thompson said.
The shop will accept food and monetary donations for the Temple Ronald McDonald House. McDonald’s will provide breakfast and coffee as well as offerings from other community partners. Baylor Scott & White will host a mobile blood drive at the event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
More events are planned Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
A 9/11 memorial stair climb will be Saturday at Wildcat Stadium at Temple High School, 415 N. 31st St.
Temple Fire & Rescue and other Bell County first responder agencies will honor the lives of fallen first responders with the stair climb event Saturday morning.
“It is a time to come together and remember the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Temple Fire & Rescue Chief Mitch Randles said. “This also allows us to show support to our first responders,” he said.
The climb will take place 7-11 a.m. and will pause for a brief ceremony at 8 a.m. For information or to register, visit templetx.gov/911memorial.
A Texas-shaped granite memorial featuring the shoulder patches of seven local first responding agencies will be dedicated in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday near the gazebo on the grounds of the Salado Civic Center, 601 N. Main St.
The memorial, design by sculptor Troy Kelley, features patches from the Salado Police Department, Bell County Constable Precinct 2, Bell County Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Medical Services, the Salado Volunteer Fire Department, Texas game wardens and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
On Saturday, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor will remember the 2,977 lives lost during the terrorist attacks with a Patriot Day football game and festivities to honor local Bell County first responders.
Patriot Day events will begin at 4 p.m. with a pregame showcase on King Street in Belton, featuring fire trucks and K-9 police units, and will continue at Crusader Stadium for special recognition of local first responders at 5:50 p.m.
The national anthem will be sung by UMHB’s One Voice while a large U.S. flag is presented on the field, followed by an aerial flyover from Fort Hood.
Kickoff then begins at 6 p.m. against East Texas Baptist University. Teams will wear helmet decals to honor the lives that were lost on and because of the terrorist attacks. Local first responders and active duty military will be honored with free admission.
“As a university, it is our privilege to honor local first responders alongside those brave men and women who lost their lives on this day 20 years ago,” UMHB President Randy O’Rear said in a news release.
Visitors are encouraged to experience the student organization-sponsored 9/11 memorial on campus. The UMHB chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas is planting 3,000 U.S. flags and displaying memorial boards in front of the Luther Memorial.