As chairman of The Highlands Tea Party, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to the young men and women of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), their adult mentor Virgilio Beato (teacher), the Sebring High School Junior ROTC, as well as Chief Dennis Green and Col. Mark Colbert Jr., Cadet Commander Camila Norona, Alexis Chancey and Matthew Sboto for a great 9-11 remembrance.

Starting on Tuesday, Sept. 10, YAF members had help from volunteers from the Highlands Tea Party (THTP), Americans For Prosperity (AFP) and several students placing over 3,000 flags in the courtyard of the school in remembrance of those 2,977 who lost their lives on 9-11. Not a small job putting over 3,000 flags in the ground!

It was a very impressive display with 9-11 spelled out with remaining flags. All the pathways in the courtyard were lined with flags. Flags were donated by Alan Jay Automotive Network, The Highlands Tea Party, and Jeanne Parzygnat. I apologize if I missed someone, this is all I was aware of.

On Wednesday, a 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony was held in the gym; most all students were in attendance. The ROTC presented the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, a prayer was given in remembrance, followed by Alexis Chancey singing the national anthem in one of the most a beautiful pure toned versions I have heard in many years. Many comments were voiced on how beautiful it was.

This was followed by a video of the 9-11 attack. It was most moving to realize that many of the students in attendance may have never seen the detailed video of the tragedy. This attack on our shores occurred 18 years ago; these students today were not born at that time, or they were only 1 or 2 years of age.

This was followed by Matthew Sboto, teacher of carpentry, with a speech regarding his day in Manhattan at the moment of the attack, a very compelling story of personal experience, one he will never forget. Then everyone took a tour of the displays — one a 12-foot replica of the World Trade Towers.

This 9-11 Remembrance is testimony that our young people are aware of what is going on in the world. This was, I am sure, a learning experience for many; hopefully many will research to learn more about 9-11. As I looked around the gym during the video, I could see the expressions of disbelief on their faces, it was total silence as the film was shown.

9-11 — never forget.

Thanks for a great display of patriotism!

John Nelson is chairman of The Highlands Tea Party in Highlands County. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.

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