MANCHESTER – The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people should never be forgotten, but what also should be remembered is how that awful day in American history actually made Americans more resilient, renewed the country's patriotism and made the nation stronger, Beech Street School children were told yesterday.
"We are grateful that you didn't experience Sept. 11th, and we pray you never know such violence and tragedy," Gov. Maggie Hassan told nearly 190 fourth- and fifth-grade students gathered in the school's gym for the city's 9/11 Remembrance Program marking the 12th anniversary.
Hassan said that day was also one that demonstrated "our collective resilience in the face of great tragedy." And then she explained to the children what resilience meant, the ability to recover from a tragic event.
The governor said people continue to put themselves in harm's way to make sure everyone can be safe and free.
"Never forget that on Sept. 11, people were brave and strong for one another. They were kind to each other, too," she said.
The governor told the children they need to take care of each other. "And we need you to be good people, brave people. To be kind and strong people."
Beech Street School Principal Patricia Snow said while the children should never forget what happened on 9/11, they should also remember the compassion shown those who lost loved ones, the caring people displayed for one another and the courage exhibited by the first responders.
The children learned from Central High School Principal Ronald Mailhot that one of the people killed that day was Katherine Bantis, a 1975 graduate of Central High School. An insurance company vice president, Bantis was in the north tower at the World Trade Center when one of the hijacked planes crashed into it.
He said Bantis came to Manchester in 1969 from Greece and had learned English, first at what was then known as Hillside Junior High School and then at Central. Bantis, he said, spent her time and money helping disabled children and educating them in her native Greece.
Mailhot said while we continue to mourn her death, we should also remember her for her life of giving and caring because "That's what will defeat terrorism."
School Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston related the story of how firefighters came to raise the American flag in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Most people don't know, she said, that firefighters went to New York Harbor, cut a huge mast from a boat, brought it back to Ground Zero and raised the flag.
She asked the children to close their eyes and think about the flag and what it meant that day – "hope, freedom and everything we believe in."
Firefighter Chris Provost performed the ceremonial bell ringing – striking a large bell a total of 15 times in three separate series – to commemorate the lives of 343 New York City firefighters killed on 9/11.
Assistant school district superintendent Karen Burkush read the names of the 10 New Hampshire residents who died in the 9/11 attack: Thomas McGuinness, Thelma Cuccinello, Carol Flyzik, David Kovalcin, Douglas Stone, Robert LeBlanc, Louis Neil Mariani, Kathleen Shearer, Robert Shearer and Katherine Bantis.
The Central High School band filed the gymnasium with music, first performing the National Anthem and then "God Bless America." The fourth- and fifth-graders also belted out "Proud To Be an American."
The program concluded with Beech Street School music teacher Ryan Shumway playing "Taps" on the trumpet.
The children listened to Mayor Ted Gatsas, who encouraged them to shake the hands of a police officer or firefighter whenever they encountered them and thank them for their service.
As the grade school students headed out of the gym and back to class, a line of children stopped and shook hands with a police officer.