• 84°

Canines commemorate 9/11 sacrifices

First Responders Day breakfast honors Nederland heroes

NEDERLAND — The students in Central Middle School have no 9/11 memories of their own. They can’t tell you where they stood when the Twin Towers fell or who they were with when the Pentagon came under attack.

Born after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the 2015-16 Canines can only piece together what happened that day from the stories they hear in the news, in their homes, in their classrooms. They soak in the stories of tragedy and great sacrifice with empathy and look up to the bravest in the community to lead the way.

The Canines honored their hometown heroes Friday morning during the school’s 15th annual First Responders Day breakfast. Charlie Jehlen, Central Middle School principal, said the program started spontaneously after the terror attacks in 2001 and has grown organically to honor all first responders.

Central Middle School Principal Charlie Jehlen, left, poses with Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush and Nederland Fire Chief Gary Collins during the annual First Responders Day Breakfast in honor of 9/11 Friday morning in the Central Middle School library.

Central Middle School Principal Charlie Jehlen, left, poses with Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush and Nederland Fire Chief Gary Collins during the annual First Responders Day Breakfast in honor of 9/11 Friday morning in the Central Middle School library.

“Today the Canines celebrate the men and women who are our first responders to crises in Nederland,” Jehlen said Friday morning. “They maintain the law, order and public safety in our community. Honing their skills through constant training, they keep us secure as we go about our lives.

“They accept the perils and responsibilities of their professions. Whenever we call for help, they answer. This breakfast is a small token of the high esteem in which we hold these men and women.”

The students led the program in songs and in service while the peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel in attendance enjoyed their meal and countless blue paper badges with sentimental notes and drawings from the youngest Canines.

“Thank you for doing something most people wouldn’t do,” one badge read. “I think that if you have the heart to pick your job for other people… you’re stronger than the average human being.”

Central Middle School students gave the Nederland Police and Fire Departments hand-made cards and gift baskets filled with snacks during the annual First Responders Day breakfast in honor of 9/11 in the Central Middle School library Friday morning.

Central Middle School students gave the Nederland Police and Fire Departments hand-made cards and gift baskets filled with snacks during the annual First Responders Day breakfast in honor of 9/11 in the Central Middle School library Friday morning.

“Thank you for risking your lives to keep ours intact,” another badge read.

A popular blue badge came from an artist who drew comic book heroes Batman, Spider-Man and Thor telling the first responders “Thank you” while anti-hero Deadpool gives them a thumbs-up and says, “Good job.”

“This is our first year to do the paper badges, and they’ve really been a hit,” Jehlen said. “A lot of our officers and firefighters are picking them up to show the others what the kids have said and what they’ve drawn for them. I know our students are enjoying that — seeing even a simple ‘thank you’ have so much meaning is a powerful thing.”

Twitter: @crhenderson90