WASHINGTON CITY — People in Southern Utah gathered at various Patriot Day celebrations Wednesday to remember those who died on Sept, 11, 2001, and honor American heroes.
“I can be a hero by helping others without them asking me to. People don’t have to be firemen or policemen to be a hero, we can all be heroes right now,” fifth-grade student Quentin Soli told a crowd gathered for the 17th annual “Hero Day” assembly at Washington City Elementary School.
A hero is someone you admire, he said. He likes to use his father as an example but said people can look up to anyone.
Soli’s dad, Samson, a Provo Police officer, died from stage-four lung cancer on May 25. He credits him as a hero for being a big part of his life and always showing up for him when something was wrong. He said his mom is also a hero in his life.
“I look up to my mom because she loves me for me,” Soli said. “She teaches me life lessons. I can’t imagine a life without my mom. I have a lot of heroes in my life and I hope I can be a hero, too.”
In response to Soli’s remarks, fifth grade teacher Kurt Ivie appeared nearly overcome with emotion.
“I have been impressed with this young man’s courage — his willingness to share his story,” said Ivie, who began the annual assembly to honor all first responders and in observance of 9/11 the year following the attacks.
Reading from her winning essay on “Our Heroes,” fifth-grader Jynelle Molina said her dad used to be a fireman and he was a hero for always answering the call to serve when he thought there was a chance someone might be in trouble.
“I am thankful for the example my dad has set for my family. I am thankful for the hero he is and all the other heroes in our community.”
State Sen. Don Ipson said the freedoms Americans enjoy were bought at the price of many lives lost, adding that a great deal of gratitude is owed to first responders and veterans.
“What they have done and what they continue to do is unbelievable,” he said.
“We need to always remember that freedom isn’t free … that there’s someone, somewhere putting their life on the line,” Ipson said. “They go out in the world, and out in our communities, to protect us and keep us safe. I personally want to thank each one of them for the great job they do.”
Washington Elementary PTA president Carmen Snow gave the invocation, in which she reflected on the aftermath of 9/11.
“Let’s never forget this day in time that we all came together as a community and country and as a nation,” she said. “The love of all was never stronger and our flag flew higher. Thanks to our heroes who stepped into harm’s way.”
Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams said he’s proud to see the students’ support for their community and nation, adding that his department looks forward to the interactions they get with the public on a daily basis.
William said that while what happened on Sept. 11 was tragic, he wants to focus on how people came together in the days after.
“It’s something we need to probably reignite among our country,” he said. “Our nation came together and we stood as one. We were united.”
He said the elementary’s “Hero Day” event is a good reminder of what happens when the country stands as one people.
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