Davies High honors 9/11 victims, receives ND’s first Freedom flag and steel from WTC

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 4:31 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A major piece of 9/11 history is now with a Fargo high school as they honored and remembered the victims of the unthinkable terrorist attacks almost 20 years ago.

After a months-long application process, Davies High was selected as the first and only school in North Dakota to fly the national Freedom Flag, as well as to temporarily have a piece of steel from the World Trade Center towers. in an effort to continue to keep the memory of September 11, 2001, alive for generations to come.

“If we’re the 50th state and we’re the last one to do this, and we’re the only high school who gets a chance to hang up the Freedom Flag, then we’re going to do it the right way,” Bart Manson, a Davies High U.S. History teacher said. Manson, along with his colleague Loretta Wellentin orchestrated both the application process with the Freedom Flag Foundation and Friday’s flag raising ceremony.

Davies High gets to keep the World Trade Center steel for one year, but the flag is the school’s for good. Manson says the flag will fly for the rest of September and will be raised again every September.

The Freedom Flag Foundation was formed ‘to establish the Freedom Flag as a national symbol of remembrance for September 11, and to support educational efforts of teaching future generations about the tragic events and many lives lost on that date,’ according to its website. The flag started as a drawing on a napkin and is now a national movement to educate students and to never forget.

History came alive Friday morning beginning when hundreds of students poured out onto the school’s east side near the flag pole, joined by dozens of local first responders from Fargo Fire, Fargo Police, the ND Army National Guard and local VFW members.

“We salute the first responders that day and the acts of heroism performed by everyday Americans,” ND Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Dorneman said.

“We pledged to honor and remember the 2,977 innocent victims who died during the attacks and the devastation to their family and friends left behind,” Lauren Lamp, a Davies High student said.

“By working together, we can transform the tragedy and aftermath of September 11, 2001, into a positive learning experience that can empower us to be future leaders of tomorrow,” Jenezio Lagobey, a Davies High student said.

Fargo Police’s Honor Guard then raised both the American and Freedom flag as the Davies High School band eloquently played the National Anthem.

The Freedom Flag consists of 10 elements to symbolize the complex events of 9/11 in a way students can better understand.

Freedom Flag 10 elements breakdown
Freedom Flag 10 elements breakdown(Freedom Flag Foundation)

“A lot of the kids have seen the Twin Towers when they were hit and coming down, things like that, but they didn’t see how we came together as a country,” Manson said of the importance of Friday’s ceremony. He emphasized he hopes students walked away Friday morning feeling honor and pride of the local heroes in the metro as well as in being an American.

Students also surprised first responders Friday morning with their own Freedom Flags. All four departments stated they will also fly their flags every 9/11 going forward.

“It’s very symbolic of what happened and we will take good care of it in honor of those who aren’t here today,” Fargo Fire Batallion Chief Bruce Anderson said.

“I think its extremely important that kids learn history, they follow history and they support our country. So this is a fulfilling moment,” Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski said.

None of today’s high school students were alive when the terrorist attacks unfolded, which has made it Manson’s mission to make history come alive and find a special place in his students’ lives.

“I always tell the kids in class, ‘My grandpa knows exactly where he was when Pearl Harbor was hit. For my dad it was JFK’s assassination. Me, September 11,” Manson said. “I know they haven’t had an event like that, but as long as I’m teaching we’ll continue to teach September 11, and teach the events around it, what happened afterward and the consequences we live in today.”

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