TERRE HAUTE —
Hands reached for the sky in gestures of praise on Tuesday as a huge American flag waved above the Brazil City Hall plaza on Tuesday.
The audience at the 9/11 Memorial Service swayed and sang along with vocalist Kayla Chiles as she patriotically performed “God Bless the USA” as part of the city’s organized observance of Patriot Day and the remembrance of the terrorist attacks that spawned America’s War on Terror.
Fifth-graders from the Brazil elementary schools of Forest Park, East Side and Meridian stood attentively during the ceremony, listening to speakers and hearing about incidents that happened before they were born.
“I thought it gave a lot of information about everything that happened, and all the personal beliefs about how Americans responded to the attacks,” said Forest Park student Mason Reynolds, who also watched a video about 9/11 with his classmates Wednesday morning.
Principal Dustin Jorgensen said each class at the elementary had an age-appropriate activity related to the 9/11 remembrance.
“It is an important event for them as citizens,” Jorgensen said.
Student Jonah Freeman said he enjoyed the three-volley salute fired by the VFW Post 1127 color guard to close the ceremony. He said he has an older brother serving in the Air Force, and his father Kirk is a veteran, so he is familiar with the significance of 9/11.
Mayor Brian Wyndham pointed out the importance of school children learning about the day 12 years ago when terrorists launched an attack on the United States that killed more than 3,000 people and changed how Americans respond to disasters and prepare for the unexpected.
Major David Baysinger, an executive officer of the National Guard 38th Special Troops Battalion and a native of Brazil, gave the keynote address by recalling how America and the world changed due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“That is a day we must never forget,” he said. “Those people didn’t volunteer to be in harm’s way. That loss of innocent life has changed our lives forever.”
When he entered military service, Baysinger said, America’s “enemy” was Communism and that enemy was familiar. But that enemy was replaced by terrorism.
“Our role changed to be support for the first responders, and it was non-conventional warfare,” he said.
Since 9/11, he has been deployed twice to the Middle East, returning from overseas to his hometown less than three months ago.
Vigilance is important in fighting terrorism, he said, and emergency preparedness is part of that for both the military and civilians.
Brazil Fire Chief Jake Bennett and Police Chief Clint McQueen both gave tribute to the firefighters, police officers and civilians who rose to the occasion to help others and in some cases, to sacrifice their own lives to save others. The passengers on United Flight 93 — which crashed into a Pennsylvania field — accepted a response greater than themselves, McQueen said, when they tried to regain control of their hijacked aircraft to prevent a terrorist crash into another building.
“They chose to act,” McQueen said. “It was an example that should inspire us all. They were ordinary people who made a decision to stand up and fight back in an extraordinary way.”
He said he believes ordinary citizens will do the right thing in such situations, and the sacrifices that people made on 9/11 illustrate that.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.