Newberg Christian school plants flags in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attack

SETH GORDON - C.S. Lewis Academy student Audrey Jackson plants one of 300 small flags around the school's flagpole Sept. 11 as part of its Patriot Day event.

To those with vivid memories of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it's easy to forget that all but the oldest children in school these days weren't born yet when more than 3,000 Americans lost their lives in 2001.

That's part of the reason why C.S. Lewis Academy Principal Clay Swanson organized a school event last week in honor of Patriot Day.

"We gathered around the flag pole together and I just shared some thoughts about the 9/11 tragedy," Swanson said. "Trying to talk to kindergarteners to 12th graders about something like that, it was very generic, but I reminded them -- because few if any of these kids were born at that point -- that we never want to forget history or repeat history."

Swanson previously worked at a school with a tradition of celebrating Patriot Day, which is often confused with Patriots' Day, which features the Boston Marathon on the third Monday in April in commemoration of the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were the first in the American Revolutionary War. He was reminded of that when someone forwarded a video of a Veterans Day celebration in which people planted thousands of flags in the ground and thought it would be a fitting tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Parents Dan and Stacey Hurst donated most of the flags, but Swanson bought a few more to bring the number up to 300.

"I wish that we would have bought more, more, more," Swanson said. "It was just such a sweet example of unity and showing of remembrance for our kids. But we also wanted to show the community that C.S. Lewis hasn't forgotten the sacrifices and tragedy that happened."

Swanson also shared that his own son, Benjamin, was born on Sept. 11, and used an old flag that is in rough shape to make a point to the students.

"I just used that visual and that analogy to say that our nation is kind of torn and tattered right now, but we have the opportunity and privilege to be reminded of that on days like this," Swanson said. "We had a chance to pray for our nation and our leadership and families of those that lost their lives on 9/11. That was a visual for them to unite around."

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