Children at Generations of Learn ing recite the Pledge of Allegiance Friday morning during the Grandparents & Hero Celebration held to honor the memory of 9/11. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Youngsters clad in red, white and blue with American flags tattooed on their cheeks honored their heroes, large and small, in a combined 9/11 and grandparent’s day celebration Friday morning at Generations of Learning Center.
The center celebrates 9/11 annually, but began coordinating the event with grandparent’s day a few years ago.
“We make it a hero day celebration. We’re honoring our first responders. We’re honoring our grandparents — people who have made an impact on our lives. We try to instill that in them to look for somebody that is a hero in their life, and we talk a lot about heroes. Even though they’re young they’re beginning to get the idea of what a hero is,” said Marilyn Wagner, co-director of the center.
Some 125 children participated in the event, according to Jeri Key, co-director of the center.
“We just really love to honor the people that do so much for us each and every day of the year,” she said.
The center, started in 1937, believes strongly in heritage.
“If we’re going to be successful in raising children in this day and time, we’ve got to get the whole family involved,” Wagner said. “We try to have an event once a month that encourages family to come out and interact with their children.”
Children attending the center are far removed from the happenings of 9/11, but Wagner says they still try to keep the event current.
“We do try to tell them that people sacrificed their lives on 9/11. Mostly what I do is try to encourage them to honor our police force, our armed forces, our sheriff and people in uniform to get them to know what an important job they do for their country. We try to keep it fresh. I don’t want to scare them, but I want them to understand the freedom we do have. The school has always stood on patriotism, and we stand very highly on that.”
Throughout the day children were able to meet local heroes in attendance from the police, fire and sheriff’s department, and received tours of their respective vehicles.
“They get to understand that they are our friends, that you should never be afraid of them,” she said.
Jazmin Sarabia, a member of the National Guard and the mother of a student at the school, said the event had a personal effect on her.
“It’s great to get support from the community,” she said. “It means the world.”