Cedric Cole, an eighth-grade student at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus, was 2 years old at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
What Cedric, 13, knows about the day has been shaped largely by his parents, who described it as a “terrible scene.”
Some middle-school teachers on Tuesday also spoke about the 11th anniversary of the attacks during classroom lessons.
“They wanted us to never forget and always remember that it’s really important,” said Emily Kopp, 13, who also is an eighth-grader at the school.
Cedric and Emily were joined Tuesday by eighth graders David McBain and Christina Hernandez when they raised an American flag during the middle school’s annual flag raising ceremony and moment of silence to honor those in military service and the victims of 9/11.
The event — held at the school of about 800 — has been a tradition in the community since 1975, marking the beginning of the school year. However, since Sept. 11, 2001, the ceremony has been used to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks.
The ceremony also honors William Ruth, a former teacher at the school, who died in the plane crash at the Pentagon.
“We remember [this day] as many of us also remember Nov. 22, 1963 and as many of my colleagues remember Dec. 7, 1941,” said William Trotter, Montgomery County American Legion commander and Damascus Post 171 adjutant.
Trotter was referring to the dates when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
“...One thing is beyond debate, [Sept. 11] changed us and our world,” he said.
David, 13, said he was playing with his dog when his mom found out about the attacks.
“My mom told me I was out in the front yard and she was thinking ‘What type of world [is he] going to grow up in,’” he said.
David said he was proud that he participated in Tuesday’s ceremony.
“It really made me feel special,” he said.
Along with members of the local American Legion, representatives from several law and fire enforcement agencies were present.
Officers from the Montgomery County Police department rode into the ceremony on patrol bikes, followed by members of the Damascus Volunteer Fire Department, who were riding in fire trucks. Principal Louise Worthington said the event is held to remember the tragedy of 9/11 and also to honor those who protect the community everyday.
“We want to remind our children that they are the next generation of American heroes,” she said.
“The flag raising celebration helps us remember those who served this country and this day 11 years ago,” said Robin Lupia, assistant principal at the school.
The school’s concert band and chorus performed patriotic songs during the event, including “The Star Spangled Banner” and “My America.” Members of the ROTC at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown presented the colors during the event and principals from Damascus Elementary, Woodfield Elementary in Gaithersburg, and Clearspring Elementary school were present.
Several county school and government officials were also at the ceremony, including Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown and state Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville.
“This is a great opportunity for Baker Middle School to show how great its students are, to honor our military and to remind us what this day means,” Rice said.
Maryland Del. Craig Zucker (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville, said that the ceremony is a good representation of American patriotism.
“I think it shows that patriotism is cross generational,” he said.