GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Dressed in red, white and blue, fourth- and fifth-grade students from Grafenwoehr Elementary School led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance during a Patriot Day commemoration in Grafenwoehr on Sept. 11.

The students, along with a handful of parents and community members, gathered around the parade field flag poles to pay homage to those lost during the 9/11 attacks and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ceremony opened with a prayer of remembrance from Chaplain (Maj.) Joseph Vieira, USAG Grafenwoehr. Lt. Col. Rafael Paredes, deputy brigade commander, 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade, followed with a speech touting what he called the "great American spirit" and the nation's ability to join together for a better future.

"The American spirit is the character of our nation, an ideal. It is a collective resolve, the strength that we derive from tragedy, and a resilience to learn and come back stronger than ever." The students answered Paredes' call for collective strength with a chorus of "God Bless America," before a solitary bugler sounded taps.