Lisa Sweet | Production Assistant
Unified School District 207 conducted its annual Freedom Walk Sept. 10, commemorating the 20th anniversary since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Freedom Walk was conducted virtually with a pre-recorded video. The video featured guest speakers, students from each of the post’s four schools reading chosen essays about “What Freedom Means to Me,” and musical performances.
Freedom Walks began in 2005 by the Pentagon as a way to celebrate freedoms, commemorate lives lost on 9/11 and to honor service members and first responders, USD 207 Superintendent Keith Mispagel said in his remarks in the video.
“This is the 20th anniversary of the untenable events of September 2001. USD 207 continues to support, participate and partner with the Fort Leavenworth community,” Mispagel said. “It continues to be of great importance to recognize the heroes we are surrounded by each day in the district, the community, the state and the country.”
Students were reminded of why Sept. 11 is commemorated.
“With these walks we honor the memory of those killed in the 9/11 attacks and recognize the service and sacrifice of count-less Americans, especially first responders and U.S. military servicemen and women,” said retired Col. Mike Griswold, USD 207 School Board president. “Recent events in Afghanistan 20 years after 9/11 remind us once again of the extraordinary valor, courage and sacrifice of our military service members and the importance of the support they receive on the homefront, especially from their family members.”
This year, students were given calls to action. Being too young to have firsthand memories of the attacks on 9/11, they were encouraged to make a difference in the world by continuing to learn, support family and friends and strive for excellence as future leaders.
“It (September 11, 2001) was a sad day, but one good thing came out of that — our nation came together just like you are doing today,” said Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth commanding general. “Today, as you take that Freedom Walk, please remember what it means to be an American, what it means to means to be an American, what it means to sacrifice for others. Have a great walk today, make a new friend and remember all those people that guarantee your safety.”
The event closed with the singing of “Good Job,” a song written by Alicia Keys in 2020 in honor of first-line workers of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While it has become associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt that it extends to those associated and affected by the 9/11 attacks,” said Aaron Hall, Patton Junior High School music teacher. “Every person who has served others during the difficult times we have faced deserves a heartfelt ‘good job’ from us, and there is no more impactful way to hear that message than through song.”
Patton singers sang the song while video clips played of firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, service members and paramedics. The repeating refrain reiterated the district’s message to honor community heroes.
After watching the virtual Freedom Walk video in their classrooms, students at each of the schools placed U.S. flags outside the buildings in honor of first responders and the U.S. military.
What freedom means to me
Emma Herlihy/Eisenhower Elementary School
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” Nelson Mandela said. Freedom comes in many different forms. A lot of us were born in the United States, born into freedom. Freedom is in every single thing we do, yet we take it for granted.Freedom is having a choice in what we do every day. How we use our freedom is what matters.When I think of freedom, I think of being able to help others freely, being able to make our own choices. We need to use freedom the way that the men and women who put their lives on the line for us to be free, would want us to not to discriminate others for who they are, but to work together to make the world a better place. Freedom to me in the grand scheme of things is being united, working to-gether to improve this world.We are free people, we’re free to do what we want when we want. We need to use our freedom for the benefit of others as well as ourselves. We have the freedom to learn in an amazing environment and we shall use that free-dom and take hold of it and put effort into our education which will lead to the future of the world. As Americans we need to unite and use our freedom to prosper.We all have things in com-mon, not just you and me, not just the United States, the whole world does, and if we put aside our differences and we used our freedom to work together, to prosper, this world would be amazing. We can use our freedom to make our own choices to change the world.
Rachel Filimoueulie/MacArthur Elementary School
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” I thought that was a really great quote because I thought that meant that freedom can’t just be given to you for free, that you have to fight to get your freedom, because everyone should have their own freedom. Freedom isn’t where you can do any-thing you want right away. You still have to follow the law and earn your place. But everyone should get the chance to earn their freedom and have it.Freedom can have its pros and cons. It is not doing or acting on free will. It isn’t about doing whatever you want to do. It does not come without sacrifice and costs such as the military, their families, law enforcement, and any other service workers. When someone wants to carry a weapon, that’s freedom, but it all comes with a certain responsibility. You earn the right to have certain privileges. When you disobey the laws that we are supposed to follow, you lose the freedom to vote, drive or own certain things. But freedom is being able to walk down a street and know that someone won’t kidnap me or try to hurt me. Someone else’s free will should not hurt another person. I can buy what I can afford. I can travel anywhere in the country. I can do what I want as long as it’s right and safe.Many people take freedom for grant-ed because it’s just given to them while others fought for their freedom, doing whatever they could to be free. People like Sojourner Truth, or Harriet Tubman, would risk their lives just to be free and to be able to control their life. Some people are still fighting to be free. Some places everyone has their freedom to do what they can do, while in other places some people don’t have any free-om at all. One of the reasons people still fight for freedom is because they are different. Freedom can also mean that you can do what you want as long as it is the right thing to do. No matter where you’re from, or how different you are. It means that you get treated equally and that you get to do the same thing as everyone else.
Freedom means that you can just walk in a street and nothing bad will happen to you.When I also think of freedom I think of our first responders. We have doctors and nurses who try their best to heal our wounds. We have firefighters who keep the fire and smoke from harming us. We have the police who arrest the robbers and the criminals who do the wrong things. And it’s like they free us from that pain. So we should be thanking them every day for helping us. So in a way even our first responders can give us freedom.Freedom is being able to feel safe and protected. Having the ability to earn a living and being able to have happiness. We don’t find many people that are ac-tually happy with what’s going on in today’s world. You may feel you’re different, but you’re really just equal with everyone else. Freedom comes with a price meaning you have to earn your place for freedom. You have to work your way to your spot. But in the end freedom is being you without anyone’s permission. Everyone should always be
themselves and everyone should always have freedom.
Katie Moen/Patton Junior High School
When you think of freedom, do you typically think of the sound of your car engine rumbling or the sound of school bells ringing? Not many people do, but that is exactly what freedom is. Freedom is going to school, driving, voting, speaking
your mind, all these things and more that we all take for granted every day because so many people do not get to do those things. Freedom is something every
citizen in the United States is given but rarely knows what to do with it. So many of our ancestors and family members fought for their freedom and succeeded, so we, the future generations and their families, could also have freedom. Ask yourself, what are you going to do with your freedom? Choose to put others down in the world and oppress
others’ freedom, or are you going to give hope and give back to others who are lesser off than you. You could donate to a charity, organization, or foundation, volunteer yourself to a cause you deem worthy or even do something as small as planting a tree. Freedom is a point of great inspiration in many people’s lives. It inspires people to achieve freedom of their own and grow to greater heights. What does freedom make you feel? Freedom is a feeling of hope, happiness, and pride. It permits you to think for yourself, speak for yourself, make your own decisions, and take your own actions in life. Freedom
can give you the motivation you need to accomplish your goals in life and seek out something that you would never have thought possible, and yet many people cannot do this. Freedom is, sadly, something not all people get to experience in their lifetime. Many people worldwide are denied the rights and privileges we take the pleasure of and waste in the splendor of everyday. Many kids go to school thinking, “this place again,” but
do not realize that there are so many kids with a hunger for knowledge that they cannot soothe. With the freedom we are given, we can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others to which freedom is declined and, if not of their lives, in the lives of future generations. Just as our ancestors and family members who fought so hard for our freedom, theirs, and others’. When you feel hopeless and helpless, be happy that you have been able to come as far as you have and have done the things you have done.
Next time you go to school, drive somewhere, do something you want to do, and speak your mind, be glad that you have the freedom to. In the end, freedom is all of these things, and more; freedom can mean anything to anyone. Everyone will have a different view of what freedom means to them based on their personal experiences, hopes,
dreams, and perspective on life. Now is the time to ask yourself, “what does freedom mean to me?”
Caileigh Courtright/ Bradley Elementary School
What freedom means to me may differ from what freedom means to you. When I think of freedom I think of being able to wake up and choose what I do during the day and not having limitations on doing what I love or being what and who I want to be, having different opportunities along with living a peaceful life. When I wake up I don’t want to have to worry about someone being there to tell me what I have to do during the day step-by-step. Not having to worry about the place I live going into a war or something that’ll keep me away from doing what I love. Not having to worry about my friends or family getting taken away from me or their homes. Not being controlled over how I look and being able to express myself. Freedom doesn’t just mean freedom for myself it also means for others. Not everyone has the same rights, which isn’t fair. Freedom means everyone getting the same opportunities and not having to be cautious about expressing themselves. No one should be judged for stuff they can’t control, which happens more
often than not. Everyone deserves to be treated the same. No one should be told they can’t do something because of their age (to a degree), race, background, education, height, weight, looks, or even their beliefs. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity, whether it’s speaking out, going places, doing jobs, helping out, etc. So many people have helped and are still helping to keep us safe and free. Like our military, most of you are military children, and some of the adults here are in the military. Our healthcare workers also help keep us safe, especially with COVID and all of the other diseases
(because if we’re sick we can’t do much). Our emergency responders help keep us safe, whether it’s our police or firefighters or even the people who pick up the phone when we call 911. Freedom has many different meanings to all of us and these are just a few examples. I want you to think about what freedom means to you. Thank you.