15th Freedom Walk Honors Heroes

KISD, community remembers 9/11
By: Todd Martin
Honoring a heritage of bravery in the face of overwhelming challenge, leaders across the Killeen community joined a generation that knows 9/11 as history to remember, reflect and learn.
Killeen ISD hosted the community’s 15th annual Freedom Walk Friday, a day before Patriot Day and the 20th anniversary of the attacks on America of September 11, 2001.
This year’s event featured a formal remembrance at the Ellison High School auditorium, with senior Cameron Caple serving as master of ceremonies and band, choir, dance team and Junior ROTC serving in the event.
Lt. Darnell Brown, a graduate of Ellison High School and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point urged students and others in attendance to consider the spirit of character that was on display that day as nearly 3,000 people lost their lives.
Brown was a kindergarten student at West Ward Elementary School that day and said he recalled observing television coverage and the fear on the faces of adults that day.
Often directing his comments toward a large group of Ellison JROTC cadets in the audience, he focused on the character traits of teamwork, perseverance and selfless service.
He shared a timeline of events that began with the 8:46 a.m. plane crash into the first World Trade Center tower and concluded with the 10:30 a.m. collapse of the north tower.
Those attacks, he said, “tested the will of the American people…Today, we honor those who chose to fight back.”
Superintendent John Craft praised emergency first-responders, soldiers and Veterans. He said the bravery of the heroes of that day are part of the fabric of our nation.
The event included powerful video testimony from seven KISD graduates who were in school that day 20 years ago.
  • Errol Reid, a Harker Heights High School graduate, was an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Liberty Hill Middle School, who eventually joined the military.
  • Kyle Moore was an Ellison High School student who said he was motivated that day to join the military. Now, he is a Killeen police officer.
  • Cynthia Smith, a Killeen High School graduate, was also motivated to join the military and now is a safety technician for KISD.
  • Rose Fernandez and Michael Murillo, both Killeen High School graduates and Matthew Sandoval, a Harker Heights graduate are all Killeen firefighters
  • Michael Boyd, an Ellison High School graduate also decided to join the military and is now a Killeen city councilman.
Participating students, along with school district and Ellison staff members, joined representatives from area cities, soldiers and Gold Star Families to exit the auditorium, walked beneath a flag hoisted by Killeen Fire Department ladder trucks and made a lap around the practice field.
The walk ended with bell tolls and the playing of Taps in honor of those lost on 9/11.
“The American spirit is unshakable,” said Brown. “Action that day saved lives…The sacrifice of those men and women will never be forgotten.”