CHARLESTON, W.Va. – About 500 schoolchildren from across West Virginia commemorated the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on Thursday with a Declaration of Commitment ceremony sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Education.
The event at the state Culture Center in Charleston focused on civics education, volunteerism and patriotism. Dr. Ken and Sharon Ambrose of Huntington, whose son Dr. Paul Ambrose died after his plane slammed into the Pentagon on 9/11, shared a letter about their son and his death.
“The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is a fitting time to come together as a community to reflect and to honor the victims and the heroes and to consider the ramifications for the survivors, our schools, our state, our nation and the world,” said West Virginia Superintendent Jorea Marple. “This tragic event 10 years ago inspired Americans to come together in a remarkable spirit of unity and compassion. Yet many of our students did not experience that unity. This ceremony may help them understand and appreciate the tragedy and its historical significance.”
This year's high school seniors were only in the second grade a decade ago when the tragedy occurred. Many of them were shielded from the violent images that are seared into the memories of older individuals. Their memories are fuzzy or non-existent despite round-the-clock media coverage.
The event also recognized the 224 anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. The Constitution, written in 1787, is a model for new democracies around the globe, and is recognized as one of civilization’s greatest collective accomplishments.
“From today until Constitution Day on Sept.17 anyone can sign the Declaration which will be placed inside of the Culture Center at the Capitol Complex and watch the Robert C. Byrd documentary about the Constitution,” Marple said.
Byrd inserted a provision into a massive spending bill that Congress passed in 2004 requiring every school and college that receives federal money to teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17. Throughout his life, Byrd kept a copy of the Constitution in his pocket.
Students from Piedmont Elementary in Kanawha County and Van middle and high schools in Boone County participated in the events along with the University High School band from Monongalia County and the Capital High School Dance Co. and the Capital High School Junior ROTC from Kanawha County.
Also participating were Superintendent Marple, West Virginia Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw, state Treasurer John Perdue, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, state board member Priscilla Haden, along with representatives from U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s office, state Agriculture Commission Gus Douglass and state Auditor Glen Gainer.
“Teachers, together with parents and community leaders, can help students come to understand these events and their aftermath by putting the events of September 11 into a meaningful context,” Marple said.
The Declaration of Commitment ceremony was one more way West Virginia is taking a leading role in promoting civics education. The state has been recognized by national organizations for its exceptional efforts to reinvigorate civics in the classroom.
The West Virginia Department of Education also launched a year-long electronic Declaration of Commitment project. Throughout the 2011 – 2012 school year, teachers, students and parents across the state are being asked to post stories, pictures, essays and artwork related to civics education on the Declaration of Commitment page, http://wvde.state.wv.us/patriotsday/
For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.