Elementary students plant flags, learn about 9/11

Ottawa County

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Elementary students placed about 500 flags across the front lawn of their Holland-area school Wednesday morning as they remembered lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

“While they weren’t alive when the event happened, they will learn about it and continue learning about it,” Waukazoo Elementary Principal Sam Lemmon said.

The tradition started in 2002 and visitors can find images from years past of students placing flags in several yearbooks. They can also see pictures, paintings and flags in every classroom paying tribute to the lives lost on 9/11. Teachers say patriotism is a part of who they are as a school.

“Our kids didn’t survive that and hopefully will never have to survive something of that magnitude,” Lemmon said.

In the 17 years the school has been placing flags, about 50 teachers and 7,500 students have participated.

“I think it was one of those days that if you were alive you remember it clearly,” said fifth grade teacher Lisa Foy as she remembered where she was on 9/11. “I was teaching fifth grade that day here at Waukazoo.”

Foy said that at the time, she was asked not to speak to her students about what was happening until they had a chance to speak to their parents. Today, she tells them about what it was like. She said it can make for a difficult lesson.

“We talk a little bit about what happen but I like to focus on the positives and the heroes among the day,” she said. “We talk a lot about how our country changed that day.”

Foy said she also mentions increased security.

“It’s our history and when we study history, we learn from the past, we carry that through and try to make the world a better place with what we know,” Foy said.

“Will they ever truly know what it felt like to live through it and have experienced it that day? I hope not because it’s a thing that weighs heavy on anyone’s heart,” she added.

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