War came to the shores of the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
To remember that tragic event, Payson High School had an all-school assembly Tuesday — the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the attempted attack on the White House.
The PHS choir sang a version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” enhanced by solos and harmonic cords. Following the music, the students watched a film called “Remembrance,” which updated them on the building of a memorial at the site of the destruction in New York.
Although Payson seemed far from the violence that claimed more than 3,000 lives that day, the tragedy personally affected teacher Shelly Camp and brought back memories to visiting Korean War veteran Bud Collette.
Collette’s memories of the Korean War are of cold, deprivation and secrets.
“Seventeen of us went over together, only three came back,” he said. “Twice I had to sign I would not tell what I did.”
The Army would only give him a clean set of clothes and a bath once a month.
Collette sat in the front row to listen to Camp, covered in medals and pins.
Camp told of a close family friend that used to spend holidays with her family, but who died with the other passengers on Flight 93. Her friend was part of the brave group that rushed the cockpit full of hijackers to prevent the plane from crashing into the nation’s capitol. Instead, the jetliner ended up shattered in a field in Pennsylvania.
“Some of you, when you heard we would have a 9-11 ceremony, said, ‘Again?’,” she said to the students, “But we have to remember.”
Still, the day was not completely somber.
Butch Klein, a former military officer, from the Payson Supply Line came to explain that the students could make a difference today in the lives of the troops serving overseas through sending a care package and letters.
He and Lud Kaftan, another former military officer, started the Payson Supply Line in 2005 to send troops socks, gum, batteries, soap, shampoo, antibiotic cream, and all things the students can grab easily from the local Walmart, but are in short supply on the front lines.
Teacher Gary Fishel, also a veteran, wrote an e-mail about the lengthy correspondence he had with students that ultimately inspired him to become a teacher. He asked the students to consider writing a letter to those serving overseas.
The school then asked the students to participate in a “Miracle Minute” by passing around a cup for donations to send a Payson Supply Line package overseas. The students dug into their wallets and collected $426 in 60 seconds, more than enough to send a package.
The assembly started in sorrow but ended in hope.