Students at the Bergens honored everyday heroes — the people who help make them safe — in a ceremony on Monday in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Bergens’ Hero Day, also in its 10th anniversary, was a bigger celebration this year. For the past nine years, only the Bergen Meadow Elementary students came outside to sing patriotic songs, wave flags and give thank-you banners to community heroes. This year, students from Bergen Valley Elementary joined in.
Members of Evergreen Fire/Rescue, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Alpine Rescue, along with bus drivers, emergency medical technicians, the military, pilots and flight attendants, were honored and thanked with flowers and many rounds of applause.
“The Bergens have marked (the 9/11 anniversary) over the past nine years to celebrate and honor our heroes in our own community,” Bergen Meadow principal Peggy Miller told the children, parents and honorees. “These men and women give their time and, many times, risk their lives to keep us safe and provide a service to our community that we could never pay back. … Thank you for your service and for your commitment to the jobs you have that keep us all safe.”
Usually the 9/11 attacks aren’t mentioned at the ceremony, but because of all of the weekend events to commemorate those events, Miller spoke to the children about 9/11 as well.
“Yesterday, our country held many memorial services for fallen victims of the tragedy in New York, at the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. On Sept. 11, 2001, about 3,000 men, women and children were killed. It was a tragic day in our country, and we were forever changed. Many of you weren’t born or were young. … However, in 10 years, we have become stronger, and we have reinvented our values that redefine what it means to be a proud American.”
She had all the students who were 10 years old and younger stand — those who weren’t born when the 9/11 attacks happened. She told them they were the new generation of hope.
“You were born after this event,” she told them. “You help us continue to have hope and give us promise. You are the future and have the responsibility to make a difference in our country that we all love. Your innocence, energy and compassion continue to make our country great.”
Teachers used the ceremony as a way to discuss with their students what it means to be an American and how they should not take freedom for granted.
In Irene Randolph’s kindergarten class, she talked about how important the heroes are to helping everyone.
She read the kindergartners a book called “I am America” by Charles R. Smith, which says that while Americans may look different, practice different religions and listen to different music, they are indeed all Americans.
Randolph had the children put their arms next to each other to see that their skin tones were not identical. They looked at each other’s clothes to see that they were all dressed differently and at their hair to see they were different colors.
“In America, there isn’t somebody telling us what we need to do or where we must live or what we can say,” Randolph told the children. “To live in America means we are free.”