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Tragedy struck the United States on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Now 17 years later, people across the nation continue to remember the victims and their families.

West County students and staff took time Tuesday morning to reflect on the tragic events and honor those who lost their lives.

Desloge VFW Post 2426 representatives first stopped at West County Elementary before meeting with secondary students in the high school’s gymnasium.

The WCHS band, directed by Darren Cordray, began the ceremony with a heart-felt rendition of the National Anthem.

West County senior Anthony Landrigan led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

WCHS Principal Eric Moyers then shared details of some of the events from Sept. 11, 2001, and quoted then-President George W. Bush: “Thousands of lives were suddenly ended in evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger."

Moyers asked the audience to “remember the lives lost on that tragic day and the men and women who have served and are currently serving in our armed forces as well as members of fire and police departments who help protect our lives and freedoms.”

After showing an emotional video with images from that day, Moyers asked for a moment of silence to honor the victims of 9/11.

Afterward, Desloge VFW post member Christopher Wiles spoke to the audience. He told them about his military service in Kosovo. Shortly after he returned to the U.S. to Fort Campbell, the events of Sept. 11 occurred. Wiles said that the country was attacked by hate 17 years ago.

“The strife pushed us into a war,” Wiles said. “We were attacked by hate, and the only way to fight that hate is with love.”

He encouraged the audience to “enjoy this country and its many freedoms.”

The combined middle and high school choirs, led by Ryan Hassell, closed the ceremony with “Grateful to be an American.”

Other representatives from the Desloge VFW included Deborah Sansoucie, auxiliary president; Kandi Robinson, auxiliary member; and Shirley Brinkley, auxiliary member.

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