ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Students, parents and service members participated in the St.
Joan of Arc School's fifth annual Freedom Walk, held at Festival Park in Aberdeen, Sept. 10.

The event remembers the victims of 9-11 and public servants who continue to protect the nation.
The event started with a four block walk from St. Joan of Arc School to Festival Park. Students,
faculty and staff were joined by Soldiers, Family members and guests of the Joint Personal Effects Depot which has a partnership with the school.

"This event is a celebration of our freedom and a thank you to all those men and women who defend our country," said Principal Dr. Jane Towery.

The program began with the posting of the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance by Aberdeen Boy Scout Troops 800 and 810 and Cub Scout Packs 802 and 965. The national anthem was performed by Saint Joan of Arc eighth graders who sang the national anthem; Patrick Collins played a guitar instrumental and Juan Cajigas sang a solo.

Maj. Robert Moore, from the 20th Support Command spoke to the children about education being the key to freedom.

"A good education gives you skills, these skills give you freedom," Moore said.

Moore told the children that it is important to take their education seriously as it will give them the tools they need to succeed. He added that the students in the audience are America's future.

Moore told the children that they had the potential to be leaders or even the president of the United States when they grow up. "Your teachers are teaching you the skills it takes to become a leader," Moore said.

Billy Boniface, president of the Harford County Council spoke to the children about the importance of public service.

"These people (that go into public service) do it because they care about their community," he said. "It is very important to thank those in public service."

Boniface told the children that they can get involved in public service by volunteering in their community.

"Each one of us has a responsibility to give back to our community, that is the price of freedom," he said.

Sgt. Mark Novello, U.S. Marine Corps, spoke to the children about patriotism. Novello acknowledged that many of them either weren't born or were too young to remember 9-11.

He told the children there were many heroic acts at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and aboard the plane that crashed in the Pennsylvania field and added that there are many patriotic people that protect the nation every day.

"Being patriotic means not only being proud of your country, it also means you are willing to stand up and fight to protect the rights of your country," he said. "Be proud of yourself and know that you have the right to be whoever you want to be because of patriotic people, people that believe in the United States of America and all that it stands for."

Throughout the program the students performed and sang songs. The kindergarteners, first and second graders sang "My Country Tis of Thee," and the third, fourth and fifth graders sang "God Bless America."

Five middle school students gave their thoughts on 9-11, heroism and what freedom means to them.

Abby Webster, an eighth grader, remarked that a true hero is selfless. Webster said that there were many people who were heroic on 9-11, risking their own lives to try to save others.

"The tragedy has only made America stronger," she said. "If we didn't have some of the heroes of 9-11 this would be a much different country. We should remember these special heroes each and
every day of our lives."

The program closed with a prayer from Kristin Pinkowski, a sixth grade teacher at St. Joan of Arc School.

"Teach me true generosity," she said. "Teach me to give without counting the cost."