None of the students attending Dumas Junior High School today were born on September 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington with hijacked airplanes. A third target was spared when the passengers of one plane stormed the cockpit and resisted. They died in the process. More than 3,000 people, including more than 400 first responders perished that day.
On Friday, September 11, 2020, the entire student body and faculty came together in the morning sun on the west side of the school near the 9-11 Memorial -- put up shortly after the tragedy through the efforts of students at the time -- to commemorate the events of that day 19 years ago and to honor the memory of those who died. They also wanted to say thank you to the first responders of Moore County who, like the first responders on 9-11, routinely head towards danger in order to help others.
"First responders, you are our heros," said DJHS teacher Kevin Smith to the group of representatives of the Dumas Police Department, Dumas Fire Department, Moore County Sheriff's Office, Moore County Emergency Management, Moore County Emergency Medical Services, military veterans and others, many of whom were seated in a group of honor close to the speaker's podium.
To the students, teachers, staff, and guests, all wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said, "Honor those who keep us safe."
Smith talked about the events that happened on that day and their effect on the country. "This day is "an emotional day for some of us," he said, noting that many of the teachers and others were old enough to have vivid memories of the events 19 years ago. "It was the worst attack on US soil. … It raised questions about good and evil. … It reshaped our country."
Though the country had suffered, he told the crowd, "We will go on stronger. … Those that perished that day will always be a part of us."
He encouraged students to respect one another and to "keep this day as a day of remembering."
On Friday, there was music from members of the DJHS band and choir, prayers, and a bell ringing ceremony. James Carter played Taps on a trumpet. Members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts posted the colors to begin the ceremony and retired them to bring it to a close. Afterwards, there was a reception for the first responders and other guests. Unlike last year, there was no lineup of first responders shaking hands with students. The COVID health crisis put an end to that, at least for this year.
Dumas Independent School District (DISD) Board of Trustees President Patty Willis was in the audience Friday and was moved by the ceremony. "Very blessed to have the staff and students put on a presentation such as this," she said.
DISD Superintendent Monty Hysinger agreed, "It was a quality presentation from the start. It gave me goose bumps the whole time. I really enjoyed it. I am so proud of our kids and staff and our first responders in our community. They do a super job. It is good to remember 9-11 and what it meant to our country going forward."