9-11 Reflections from Superintendent Bennardo

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Walt Whitman Principal Ms. Kathie Acker, and Assistant Principal Jon Varlamos flank Sophomore Tyler Zeoli and ask for a moment of silence before leading the school in the Pledge of Allegiance.   Prior to introducing Tyler, who read a poem titled ‘On Monday We E-mailed Jokes,’ Principal Acker spoke to her students, teachers, and staff about how we all find our own ways to make sense of this tragedy and how words can provide a source of solace, hope, comfort, and reassurance.
Walt Whitman Principal Ms. Kathie Acker, and Assistant Principal Jon Varlamos flank Sophomore Tyler Zeoli and ask for a moment of silence before leading the school in the Pledge of Allegiance. Prior to introducing Tyler, who read a poem titled ‘On Monday We E-mailed Jokes,’ Principal Acker spoke to her students, teachers, and staff about how we all find our own ways to make sense of this tragedy and how words can provide a source of solace, hope, comfort, and reassurance.
The Countrywood students, teachers and staff watch as custodians Scott Nenos and Ron Helkowski raise the American flag and bring it to rest at half-mast.
The Countrywood students, teachers and staff watch as custodians Scott Nenos and Ron Helkowski raise the American flag and bring it to rest at half-mast.
Oakwood Principal Ms. Eileen Kerrigan, left, and three students lead the building in singing the National Anthem. Ms. Pinelli, center back, keeps the music just right.
Oakwood Principal Ms. Eileen Kerrigan, left, and three students lead the building in singing the National Anthem. Ms. Pinelli, center back, keeps the music just right.
Oakwood students stood together with their flags raised high.
Oakwood students stood together with their flags raised high.
At Countrywood Ms. Workman and some of her first-grade students are ready to return to class.
At Countrywood Ms. Workman and some of her first-grade students are ready to return to class.
Countrywood Principal Ms. Barbara Kenney, left, lead students, teachers, and staff in patriotic songs.
Countrywood Principal Ms. Barbara Kenney, left, lead students, teachers, and staff in patriotic songs.
Oakwood Principal Ms. Eileen Kerrigan shares with her students the significance of the day.
Oakwood Principal Ms. Eileen Kerrigan shares with her students the significance of the day.

Hello All:

It's remarkable to note how each generation experiences moments in time that  remain forever emblazoned upon their memories. The Americans of the 1940s will  always remember hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor, while the children of the1960s will never forget where they were when they learned of President John F. Kennedy's assassination or the shootings of Dr. King and Senator Robert (Bobby) Kennedy. The 1970s will forever have Watergate; the 1980s, the Challenger  explosion. 

There is no question that the members of our generation will never forget exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001. It was on the picture-perfect September morning, just 12 years ago, that the crystal blue sky was darkened by an unexpected attack upon our nation. The events of 9/11 forever changed our country, stealing a piece of innocence from every man, woman, and child in our great nation. There's no denying that our country was fundamentally transformed on that morning as we became understandably concerned with the security of our families and the defense of our shores. While our attackers certainly achieved their goal of shaking America to its core, they failed to break the rock-solid spirit that makes us strong.

While 9/11 will always elicit thoughts of tragedy, it will also evoke memories of the courageous and generous nature inherent in our American soul. We will never forget the pictures of brave first responders rushing towards danger to save the lives of individuals they never met.  We will always recall the thousands of ordinary citizens who waited hours for the opportunity to donate blood.  Likewise, we will be forever proud of the spontaneous outbursts of patriotism that erupted in our communities and galvanized us in the weeks and months after the attacks. From the darkest hours of that day emerged some of our greatest stories of heroism as we learned that Americans are capable of tremendous sacrifice in the hour of maximum need.

So as we search for the appropriate way to remember 9/11 this year, let us honor the brave souls who lost their lives on that fateful day and think of the families whose existence was forever changed by this senseless act of violence.

Let us also remember that the things that bind our people are far greater than those that divide us. The fact that we passionately disagree, vigorously debate, and energetically challenge one another is not an indication that our nation is broken but a clear sign that our democracy is functioning exactly as intended.

Let us give thanks for the blessing of living in the most honorable and welcoming country the world has ever known and be grateful for the privilege of calling ourselves Americans.

As we sit down to dinner this week, let's take an extra moment to remind our families of the sacrifices that have been made so we can enjoy the wonders of liberty. Let's pause and hug our loved ones a little tighter and give thanks for our opportunities and privilages, which are unmatched in the history of our world. 

We are calling upon students, teachers, parents, and staff throughout our wonderful district to remember 9/11 by wearing something red, white, and blue to school on Wednesday. This tradition has been galvanizing our South Huntington family for years by demonstrating the common bonds that make us all Americans. 

Have a wonderful week and be well.

Dave Bennardo

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