Remembering America's Heroes in 2020

Students deliver goodies to teachers who served in the military
By: Todd Martin
As promised every year since 2001, Killeen ISD schools remembered again this week the sacrifices of everyday heroes safeguarding America’s freedoms.
Virus mitigation protocols prevented the usual assemblies, parades and community freedom walk, but students and staff members across area schools expressed their gratitude in lowkey, personal remembrances.
At Brookhaven Elementary School, fifth-graders joined Principal Iris Felder during the morning announcements Friday and read messages of patriotism over the intercom system.
Later, the students delivered simple handmade thank-you notes to school staff members who once served in the military.
At Cedar Valley Elementary School, students sang together patriotic music in their classrooms. Throughout the week, they wrote personal thank-you notes for delivery to fire, police, military and healthcare personnel.
Cedar Valley third-grade teacher Karin Gay projected images from a commemorative magazine for her students to see as they discussed the events of September 11, 2001.
“I want them to see that police officers and firefighters do good,” she said. “I want them to appreciate the freedoms we have and to understand we can lose what we have. I also want them to know it was a sad time, a hard time.”
PE teacher Danny Goodrum is one of 18 Brookhaven Elementary staff members who served in the military.
He was teaching at Brookhaven that day in 2001 when a classroom assistant informed him of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “My heart just dropped,” said Goodrum Friday, now in his 23rd year teaching.
“I told my wife ‘I need to go back in.’ They attacked the home front. They attacked what we fought for all these years,” said Goodrum, recalling his initial response. His wife convinced him that he was serving by teaching children.
“You have to understand what we’re fighting for and what we’re fighting against,” he said. “You need to know your enemy. Know your purpose.”
“It’s a special day for me because my papa was in the military,” said Brookhaven fifth-grader Eva Alexander, one of many students wearing red, white and blue on Friday.
“I respect my grandfather,” she said. “Nine eleven is important because we respect those who died that day.”
The fifth-grader said it is important for students to know that “we can do something,” including to learn about the heroes of the past and to honor them.
“We are handing out notes to veterans because they saved our lives,” said fifth-grader Jermyla Lambert. “They went into the military for us. My grandparents were in the military so 9/11 is an important time to remember them.”
Brookhaven staff members who served in the military include Patricia Billingsley, Henrietta Bryant, Debbie Cantu, Henry Davidson, Della Evans, Danny Goodrum, George Lander, Jesus Martinez, Sammie Morales, Raquel Perkins, Ebone Ross, Erika Silvia, Leslae Stewart, Alicia Taitano, Staci Thomas, Diana Townsend, Jowanda Trotter and Nareka Whitfield.

Eastern Hills Middle School history teacher Tracey McDaniels shared with his classes a lesson that mixed documentary footage with video tribute and his own research and personal stories connected to the 2001 attacks on America.
About every 50 years or so, he said, world-changing events capture the attention of the world. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy fall into that category and so does the shocking toppling of the twin towers.
The history teacher shared how his aunt, working in the south tower that day was able to escape after the plane struck the north tower, surviving the attack and never returning. His friend, however, New York firefighter Mike Lynch rushed into the burning north tower and didn’t make it out.
“I want them to get a more clear understanding of what happened that day,” he said explaining his motivation to present the gripping lesson each year. “I want them to understand the shock of that day. The terrorists were going after our economy, our government and our military. There was meaning in it.”