DECATUR – As students and visitors marched into the Lutheran School Association gymnasium on Friday, scenes from media coverage of September 11, 2001 were shown on a screen above the stage.
“Never forget” read the caption.
Teacher Amy Yusko, who organized the assembly marking the 20th anniversary of the day, reminded students and adults that 2,977 people died and more than 6,000 were injured when terrorists flew two planes in the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one in the Pentagon. , and attempted to steal a fourth at another target believed to be the Capitol or the White House, but for those passengers who fought back and crashed the plane in a field in Pennsylvania.
“Sept. September 11, 2001 was an incredibly tragic day in our country,” Yusko said. “We are here today to remember those lives and the brave men and women who tried to save so many people that day, the family and friends who lost someone they loved.
Reverend Brett Hinrichs, pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, thanked God for freedom in the United States and the courage of the first responders.
“Continue to unite us as one nation, under God, indivisible, with freedom and justice for all,” he said.
The students watched a video provided by Kevin Fagan, who worked at Ground Zero in the days following the attack, with the crews doing all they could to restore power and get things working again. These workers worked 16 hours a day for six weeks, and Fagan said repairs were completed in days that would once have taken weeks due to the dedication of these workers.
And he told the story of the “tree of survivors,” a tree growing next to the Twin Towers that was buried under the rubble when the buildings collapsed, but the teams could see that it was not. not dead, and the New York Forest Service took this tree, brought it back to health, and replanted it in 2010. It is still standing today, and when a before and after photo appeared on the screen above the stage, an audible wave passed through the children and adults in the gym watching.
“These acts of mass murder were aimed at frightening our nation into chaos and withdrawing,” President George W. Bush said in a speech that evening, which was performed before the assembly. “But they failed. Our country is strong. A great people has come to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our buildings, but they cannot touch the foundations of America. “
Reverend Rob Goodwin, Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, shared with the students his own experience. He worked in an office on the 45th floor of a building next to Central Park in New York City, and he and his colleagues watched through a window as the second plane hit the Twin Towers. Yet even in the events of this day, he said, God has worked through people who have opened their hearts, who have found ways to help and to be kind in a city where it is not. was not the norm.
“God works through everything that happens in this world,” Goodwin said, and quoted Romans 8:28: “And we know that God makes everything work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose. for them. . “
That day changed the course of Goodwin’s life, he said, and helped him realize what really matters.
Hinrichs, off the stage, performed “Taps” in honor of the lives lost that day, and Rev. Bill Grueninger, also a pastor at St. Paul’s, concluded with a prayer asking God for peace for the people. who have lost loved ones. , for those who suffer from the after-effects of fear and post-traumatic stress.
“You rule in this world and you rule in our lives,” Grueninger prayed. “On this day when we remember the evil that this world can bring, we also remember your faithfulness. We remember your ability to save and we remember your ability to love. So Almighty God, as we remember, remind us once again who you are.
Yusko organized the assembly as part of her desire to help students, who were not yet born on September 11, respect and understand the events of that day, as she learned about Pearl Harbor Day when she was a student.
“I think it’s my responsibility, as long as I’m doing this job, to remember 9/11 and I will as long as I teach by teaching this to my students.”
Alex Mize, a freshman, said he was thinking about the people who knew someone in these buildings and how many hours they spent not knowing if family or friends had been. escaped.
Freshman Emma Creviston said she was moved by the number of lives lost.
“I was thinking about how this is a tragedy and how much impact it has had on people,” she said. “All the families who have lost friends and family. It’s sad.”
Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter