Schools honor heroes with patriotic programs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002


DESTREHAN – Memories of the events and losses of Sept. 11 were recalled Wednesday at school programs across St. Charles Parish, with 10 schools hosting events of commemoration.

At Ethel Schoeffner Elementary School in Destrehan, principal Mary Schmidt led students in a flag-raising ceremony, accompanied by the children singing “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Boy Scouts from Troop 317 slowly raised the flag to the top, then lowered it to half-mast, at the suggestion of Pres. Bush. “What happened a year ago today impacted all of our lives,” Schmidt told the students. “America came out on top. Nobody defeated us.”

Deputy Vyron Keller from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office was on hand to lead the students in the Pledge of Allegiance with a salute from the males and hands placed over the hearts of the females.

At Allemands Elementary School, principal Martha Daigle conducted children to a ceremony in the front parking lot, where a large group of firefighters from the Des Allemands Volunteer Fire Department were accompanied by a similar representative group from the sheriff’s office.

Second-grader Ralea Scott led her classmates in the Pledge, and second-grader Chalines Rosario was among those explaining what it means to be a hero.

The children presented banners to both the fire department and the sheriff’s office and treated them to juice and snacks.

At Destrehan High School, Sept. 11 was recalled with two multi-media presentations to accommodate the entire student body.

Organized by Danon Dastugue and Robert Fisher, the programs included guest speakers, choral and instrumental music, poetry, essays and a video presentation on the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Guest speakers were led by Sen. Joel Chaisson II and Rep. Gary Smith, and also included East St. Charles Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Jim Chimento, Continental Airlines representative Tommy McClung, American Red Cross’s Kay Wilkins and Resource Officer Sgt. Warren LeBeauf.

Wilkins, the chief executive officer of the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of American Red Cross, reminded the students of the words of Mark Twain, who said, “Courage is not the lack of fear, it’s acting in spite of it.”

She said the $3,700 raised by DHS students was added to the $100 million raised nationwide and reminded them, “You’ve been a part of history.”

LeBeauf, of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, told the students, “This will remain the land of the free as long as it is the home of the brave,” and Chimento pointed out the names of 340 firefighters displayed in banners on one wall of the school auditorium – the names of those firefighters who died in New York City that day in the World Trade Center.

McClung, who manages the Continental Airlines office at Louis Armstrong International Airport, recalled that day was his 19th wedding anniversary and when the terrorist attack happened, he immediately thought of his son, Jimmy, a Destrehan High graduate who was then going through basic training.

He questioned whether he could sustain “the profound sense of ultimate sacrifice I could face at any moment,” should his son go to war and die for his country. Col. Jim Webb of the Destrehan High Junior Air Force ROTC program recalled the heroes of Flight 93, and declared, “They were Americans and they faced the challenge as Americans.”

Programs were presented at Carver Elementary School, where funds raised for a bulletproof vest were presented to Sheriff Greg Champagne and where the Landry Middle School band performed; at Luling Elementary, Norco 4-6 Elementary and at St. Rose Primary School.