By Alex Welch
Middle school children may
not have been around during the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, but
they can still appreciate the effort so many police officers,
firefighters and others gave to help on that fateful day. One
McDonough middle school shows appreciation for these first
responders every year by holding a luncheon on 9/11, remembering the
past and valuing the present.
Eagle’s Landing Middle School
started hosting a “Heroes Luncheon” three years ago to honor the
first responders of Henry County. Police officers from the Henry
County Sheriff’s Office and the Henry County Police Department were
on hand for the event last week, and they were treated to a catered
lunch while the students thanked them for the work they do.
Sgt. William Powell of the
Henry County Police Department signs autographs with several
other first responders after an appreciation luncheon at
Eagle’s Landing Middle School.
Photo by Alex Welch
thank you cards and lined up to hand them out to the first
responders during lunch. The school’s chorus sang a song, and
there was a spoken tribute given as well. The cafeteria watched
a short video on 9/11, and afterwards the first responders took
the time to sign autographs for the students as they returned to
Principal Earlene Crump was
working at Henry County Middle School on 9/11. She still recalls the
feelings and emotions around the school from that day.
“At that time is was a
regular day. One of the office workers said there was a plane crash.
We turned the television on and it was surreal,” said Crump. “It
truly shook us as a school, but it shook us more so as human beings
because we felt vulnerable.”
Crump, who served four years
in the Air Force, said she started the annual luncheon with Diane
Johnson when she came to Eagle’s Landing. Crump’s students continue
to be enthusiastic about showing their appreciation each year.
“It brings tears to my heart,
not just to my eyes. I feel like we’re really doing something to
prepare students to be sensitive to the needs of other people,” said
Crump. “We’re helping them to understand it’s not so much about you,
but it’s about others. We need that in our country.”
Sgt. William Powell, who has
been a police officer for 15 years, was one of the first responders
present for the luncheon. He recalls stopping at a gas station on
9/11 and watching the events unfold on a television there. After
years of work in his field, he was encouraged by the amount of
support the students displayed.
“It’s very inspiring. “Kids
are what our future is going to be. It feels good to see their
support because they’re going to be our future leaders,” said
Powell. “Most kids here probably weren’t even alive, but that
doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know about it, remember it and honor
those who sacrificed during that day,” said Powell.
Crump said the luncheon is a “big deal” to her,
and everyone around the school knows what this event means. Crump
will continue to hold the luncheon as long as she’s principal at