MOUNT VERNON — Eighth-graders at the Mount Vernon Middle School were reminded of the importance of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence when they gathered Thursday for a Liberty Day assembly.
That the students are even able to assemble is made possible by the First Amendment of the Constitution, Bob Trubey, president of the Mount Vernon Lions Club, told the students.
According to Don DeVault, past district governor of the Lions Club, Ohio District 13K, the Liberty Day assemblies started 11 years ago. The purpose is to distribute to the students a booklet containing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
“The reason we put on this program is for you young men and women to familiarize yourselves with some important documents,” he said.
Asking for a show of hands of students who have a family member serving in the armed forces, or know someone who is serving, DeVault received an almost 100 percent response.
“These young people, just a few years older than you, are out protecting your rights,” he told the students. “It’s important to familiarize yourselves with what’s going on in your government and in this country.”
Holding up the booklet, DeVault said, “These books are heavy with the memories of those who have gone before you to protect your freedoms.”
“It’s unfortunate that as time evolves, we forget, and take our freedom and rights for granted,” said Knox County Sheriff David Barber, keynote speaker at the assembly.
Barber reminded the students of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked four jetliners, sending two of them crashing into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. The other, he said, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania because “people just like you guys took over the plane.”
Relating 9/11 to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Barber said that when asked, almost everyone can relate what they were doing at the time they heard of the news of each event.
“We can’t forget 9/11 ... we can’t forget John F. Kennedy,” he said. “They’re tragedies, but American resolve prevailed, and prevails today. We take our freedom, we take our liberty, for granted until something happens.”
The symbol of the freedom and liberty in the United States is the United States Flag.
“I was raised to respect and honor the flag,” said Barber. “After 9/11 everybody responded to the terrorist attack ... you couldn’t buy a flag.”
He recalled as a 6-year-old, the flag draped over his father’s casket being presented to his mother. In turn, his mother donated the flag to East Elementary School.
“My wish, my prayer, for you today is that you don’t forget what happened,” he told the students. “It’s our job in law enforcement, you guys, school administrators, to maintain freedom on our home soil.
“We can’t afford to take it for granted. I would ask that God bless each and every one of you guys, and that God bless the United States of America.”
“Freedom is not free,” said Denny Irwin, past district governor for Lions Ohio District 13K. “Someone has paid, or is paying, for the freedom we have today. There are a lot of places where we couldn’t even pass out booklets like these.”
Students concluded the ceremony by singing “God Bless America.”