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Killeen ISD hosts annual freedom walk honoring lives lost on 9/11

Posted at 11:51 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-11 00:51:19-04

It's a KISD tradition almost as old as the tragedy itself.

15 years ago KISD started the Freedom Walk to honor the lives lost on 9/11. The ceremony honored local first responders, highlighting their stories, while teaching younger generations the gravity the day holds.

The indoor ceremony was followed by an honorary walk around the Ellison High School track with a brief band performance, and the playing of Taps.

15th Annual Freedom Walk

For those who remember 9/11, it's easy to recall exactly where they were when the attack first happened.

"I think about this event a lot considering it was one week after my hiring date in the Killeen fire department," Larry Mitchell, Killeen Fire Honor Guard Commander said. "We were checking out the truck the mayor at the time came over and asked if we’d seen the news and that the first tower had been hit. The second, we went in and turned on the TV shortly after that the second tower had been hit."

Two decades later the gravity of the day is still heavy for Cynthia Smith and Michael Muriello. Both were teenagers at Killeen High at the time.

"I just remember feeling very frightened and very helpless," said Smith, now a KISD School Safety Specialist. "It just definitely changed my perspective in life, and it definitely shaped me into the person I am today."

The events of that day pushing Smith to join the Military. 10 years later she returned to Killeen to continue her service within KISD.

Murillo who is now a Killeen Firefighter said, "It’s hard to describe the feeling just watching it seeing what happened and just wondering what happened."

Knowing that 343 firefighters died on 9/11 weighs heavy on Murillo's mind, especially with the 20th Anniversary of the attack approaching.

"At any given moment I can be on the front line helping someone and ultimately not come out of that burning building or that sad situation, so I think that’s why it holds dear to me," Murillo said.

The attacks on 9/11, and the memories of that day are fresh in their minds, but what about the ones who aren't old enough to see the events of that day?

KISD Early College student Denny Joe Taijeron said, "I wasn't born yet. I grew up with family members who did go through it and told me the importance of it and what our country went through. The tragedy of that day shook the whole nation."

The memorial walk, a time of reflection for those still grieving today, is meant to honor the lives lost on 9/11, making sure the younger generations never forget.

"It’s important that we continue to honor them and remember them for everything that they’ve done and the lives that were lost for us to still be here," said Smith.

Mitchell said, "Those that lost their lives for no reason should never be forgotten."

The ceremony also had 13 military boots adorned with American flags, to honor the servicemen and women who lost their lives in Kabul last month.