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School luncheon pays tribute to first responders on 9/11


By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor 

    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

  Students constructed 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 class.

  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 Eagle’s Landing.



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