MT. VERNON – Primary Center students are too young to have any actual memories of 9/11, which makes it all the more important to remind them of the day's significance.
And so each year, the Primary Center – with the help of Woodmen of the World – holds a special 9/11 flag ceremony in front of the school to encourage students to remember Sept. 11 and to honor veterans of the U.S. military.
This annual event was held Wednesday morning at the school and all 675 kindergarten through third grade students were in attendance.
“We just need to remember all of our soldiers of all of our wars, and especially those who are still serving today,” said Larry Pearson, president of the Mt. Vernon lodge of the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society. “In this particular case, it's so that the young people can be encouraged to remember.”
Woodmen of the World provided the flags for Wednesday's ceremony.
As part of the proceedings, the American and Illinois flags at the school were run to the top of their poles and then brought down to half mast.
In addition, students observed a moment of silence, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”
“The students at the primary levels are very young and some (have) yet to understand 9/11,” said Primary Center Principal Shannon Marler, who presided over Wednesday's ceremony. “So we really focus more on the flag and the respect of the flag, and being respectful toward our school, our country, and our servicemen who are fighting for us, and especially the ones who have lost their lives.”
Teachers at the Primary Center have also incorporated the flag into their daily lessons so students can learn more about the importance of patriotism, Marler said.
Judge David Overstreet, an active member of Woodmen of the World, said Wednesday's ceremony had great value as an educational tool.
“Here, with the kids, (we want) to show them how much we should honor the flag and honor our country,” Overstreet said. “We're happy to be a part of the ceremony.”