By Catherine Hunter –
While their fellow students look on in silence, Enka ROTC cadets raise the colors at the 9-11 ceremony September 11, 2012.
The haunting notes of Taps echoed across a morning mountain view as Enka High School students, teachers and staff gathered around the flag flying at half mast. Students too young to truly understand, wrestled with the implications of towers in ruble and lives sacrificed.
“It [9-11] gets very confusing the more I think about it,” said Air Force ROTC Cadet Major Rachel Brown who organized the Enka High School 9-11 ceremony.
The ceremony began at 8:20 am with the Enka High School chorus raising voices in God Bless America. Brown said with the 9-11 event, we lost our sense of security.
“Everyone was affected, but I think we gained liberty,” she said. “The country stuck together.”
Brown added that though many of today’s younger generation don’t remember 9-11, she believes it is important to honor those who gave their lives, not just on that fateful morning, but those who give their lives to keep our country free and strong.
After Brown’s opening remarks, Cadet Captain Andres Gutierrez offered a prayer and the chorus invited the attending crowd to join them in singing the national anthem. Cadet Command Sergeant Major Dale Singleton, Cadet Major Christian Muscutt, Cadet First Lt. Mitchell Barker and Cadet Staff Sergeant Tristan Carter raised the colors.
“What does the pledge of allegiance stand for?” asked Cadet Airman Bryce Shook. “For me it stands for thanks and honor to my country and what it stands for.” Shook then led the pledge of allegiance.
Cadet Master Sergeant Jesse Bennett offered a story of the original Taps first played during the Civil War and Rhiannon Crisp played the final notes. In her closing remarks, Brown asked that freedom ring throughout all of America.
Bennett said he was there to respect those who have fallen and give back remembrance of their sacrifices. Bennett added that his class was actually studying the Trade Towers when they were attacked.
Enka High student and ROTC Cadet Steven Williams said he was in the first grade when the towers were hit.
“The teacher put on the news and we saw the buildings burning,” Williams recalled. “They locked the doors [school] and we got on the floor.”
Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin attended the ceremony along with Associate Superintendent Susanne Swanger.
“This [Enka High ceremony] was all student organized,” Baldwin said. “I believe this type of ceremony is important to educate generations that do not recall the event [9-11. it also helps to re-educate all of us about our history as a nation.”
VFW Chaplain and Retired Air Force ROTC Commander Larry Fowler attended the ceremony. He said the ceremony was important for the young people to participate in.
“Most of these kids were children when this [9-11] happened,” said Fowler. “They need to understand that freedom has a price.”