“And the rockets’ red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our FLAG was still there.”
America’s flag still flies.
Children who were born on September 11, 2001 are thinking about getting their drivers licenses, while those of us who witnessed the day’s events are remembering. We remember when Americans united for a common cause, some grew hopeless while others grew ever more determined – driven by a mission to embrace our freedom, holding on to values of patriotism, and ensuring that no matter what, we preserve our land of the free and home of the brave. Regardless of any change in sentiment or overall climate of our country, the American flag still flies high, serving as a reminder of our freedom, courage and bravery.
On this Monday morning, September 11, hundreds gathered on the campus of College of the Ozarks to remember America’s heroes who persevered to rescue, serve and protect those who fell victim or faced imminent danger associated with the terrorist attacks sixteen years ago today. Through its annual memorial service, the college opens its doors to the public to gather and reflect on the tragedy that threatened America and its citizens. Known as the “Lest We Forget” memorial service, crowds gather at the College of the Ozarks fire station each year to honor those who lost their lives, loved ones and coworkers and to recognize the important work performed by America’s heroes from fire and rescue, law enforcement, EMS, active military and veterans.
Marci Linson, College of the Ozarks’ Dean of Admissions and Vice President of Patriotic Activities, opened the ceremony with a sincere introduction reminding participants of the purpose of the event: “It is not another year that has passed, but another year that we promise to never forget.”
Among those attending were three families who lost loved ones during the attacks on September 11, 2001, reminding yet again the reason for gathering. With a memorial constructed with a steel beam of the World Trade Center bearing the caption “Lest We Forget”, the ceremony was comprised of orchestral music, community prayer, a ceremonial raising of the flag, and the spreading of flowers to commemorate the event and honor the deceased.
The September 11 memorial flag was raised by local area fire chiefs, silently confirming that this special ceremony symbolized more than just a routine gesture of kindness; rather a steadfast reminder of the purpose became clear when – of the three flags placed behind the memorial – the September 11 flag for a moment stood out when it caught a breeze of its own as if to say “this, my friends, is why we are here.”
Visitors to the Branson area often recognize the special characteristics demonstrated throughout the region – our commitment to values of family, faith, friends, flag and future. Although the majority of elementary and high school students today were not of an age to personally remember the tragic 9/11 events of 2001, the School of the Ozarks makes every effort to educate students of the reason we gather for such events. “Lest We Forget” is the torch we pass along to future generations to carry as a reminder of this important day, uniting Americans for the common cause to maintain the integrity of our flag while honoring those we lost as they fought the War on Terror.
Published: September 11, 2017