San Rafael remembers Sept. 11, 2001
San Rafael Junior High students have spent the past week learning about Sept. 11, 2001. These students were very young at the time of 9-11 and most of them do not remember the catastrophic events that occurred in America that day. Specifically in New York, Washington D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania. Librarian Dianne Butler has four grandchildren who attend San Rafael Junior High. She was asking them what they remembered about 9-11 and it wasn't much, so she asked Principal Garth Johnson if they could do a remembrance program and also some activities to familiarize the students with the events surrounding 9-11.
The students gathered all the names of those who passed away and wrote their names upon ribbons. The students watched the movie about Flight 93 that went down in Pennsylvania.
On Sept. 9 the students gathered in the gym for a patriotic program. Butler said she didn't want the students to learn about 9-11 so they would be afraid of terrorism, but so they would know that even though these terrible things happened, Americans rallied around each other and patriotism was at an all time high as the country healed from the aftermath of 9-11. She hopes the students will learn how to give service to each other and to those in their communities.
Butler talked about the many jobs people do where they render service to others. She asked the students to consider a field where they can enjoy their job and give service to others. The students recognized the members of the audience who serve at the sheriff's office, highway patrol, Veterans, fire fighters, EMTs and city officials.
Butler said many of our soldiers have been killed in the service during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Charles Durrant is a former teacher at San Rafael Junior High. He was called to active duty while teaching at San Rafael. Durrant said it was wonderful to be back at San Rafael. He fondly remembers his years at the school and will always love the school. He remembered coming to school the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 and wondering what they were going to say to the students about the events of that morning. But there were no answers. No one knew at that time who was responsible for the attacks. An old veteran who worked at the school suggested the name of Osama Bin Laden. As it turns out Lonie Zwahlen was right, and no one knew it would take so long to capture Bin Laden so he could meet the justice he deserved.
Durrant said it's good to remember the events of that day and know that we as a nation have moved forward from that day. We have grieved as a nation, but time will heal wounds. We must rededicate our efforts and resolve as individuals and communities to further humanity and progress. Ten years ago the unthinkable happened and that day will be etched in history.
Durrant showed a slide show of pictures from Sept. 11, 2001. The many people who were killed that day were not just from America, but from around the world as well and represented dozens of nations in addition to Americans.
Durrant remembered a trip he had taken with San Rafael students in 1997 and he had pictures of them atop the World Trade Center. They rode up the elevator and looked down over Manhattan. That day he remembered that trip and felt a great sense of loss at the destruction of those great buildings and the many lives within their walls.
In Feb. 2003, Durrant left San Rafael for an 18 month deployment. Soldiers from all over Utah were deployed including some from Emery County. Steven Thornton went and he was a Battalion Sgt. Major and he has recently retired. A former student of Durrant's, Will Langi went to the war zone. He narrowly escaped death when the vehicle he was riding in was struck.
Jason Larsen from Castle Dale, was in the same platoon as Durrant in Iraq. It was their job to find explosives and reduce them. Curt Bowden, built a school in Iraq for the children there. He and Durrant are still friends today and work together.
Durrant showed a small stuffed Bulldog that he took with him on his deployment. The Bulldog has a backpack filled with memorabilia in it.
When Durrant returned to Utah, his wife had taken a job which led them to Salt Lake and away from San Rafael. Durrant said it's hard being in a war and having friends there and former students. Another student of his in Iraq was Jared Malone.
DJ Graham from Emery was a former student of Durrant's. He loved listening to Mr. Durrant's army stories. Before he would get started on his work each day Mr. Durrant would have to tell an army story. "DJ Graham is a great man. He is trained well. He is a Green Beret and in Special Operations. He is the commander of an Afghan army. It is men like this who will help us win this war."
Durrant spoke of Sonny and Will Robertson, Emery County soldiers who served. The war continued and Durrant went on a second deployment. His sister is a teacher and she asked him if she sent him a flag if he would take a picture of himself by the flag. But, instead they decided they would fly that flag over Afghanistan before sending it back. "We didn't fly that flag to detract from Afghanistan, but because there are people out there who believe in freedom and dignity. There are people who believe in you. Let us shine a little light to those people in the world who need us."
Durrant asked what we must do in the face of these struggles. Abe Lincoln said we must devote ourselves to the unfinished work and dreams of those who have given their last measure of devotion and dedicate ourselves with freedom, hope and faith that we may never falter nor fail.
Durrant thanked the school for the opportunity to revisit the school. "May God bless this fine school, and may He continue to bless this nation," said Durrant.
Butler presented Durrant with a flag that flew over our nation's capitol. She also presented a flag to the school which flew over our nation's capitol and will now fly over San Rafael Junior High.
Mark DeBry sang the National Anthem as Kolton Butler and Kevin Butler raised the new flag on the flag pole.
The students at the school proceeded to the chainlink fence where they tied the nearly 3,000 ribbons on the fence to represent each life lost that day on Sept. 11, 2001 and to remember.