A special ceremony to commemorate the 10th-Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy was held this month at the Nathan Hale-Ray Middle School in East Haddam.
Members of the East Haddam Volunteer Fire Department rolled in with 'Engine 4-15' to take part in a tree-planting ceremony, which included singing, speeches and original poetry written by middle school students in memory of all of those who suffered or lost their lives on that fateful day.
The students (grades 4-8) and faculty members assembled outside on school grounds near the official 'Memorial Tree', which is located on a hill between the 4th and 5th-grade classrooms and the school gymnasium.
The tree, which is a pear tree, was chosen for it's strength, longevity, and size -- these trees can grow to a height of fifty feet or more, and have beautiful white flowers in the spring, according to Marisa Alfano, Music Teacher, Vocal and Drama Director at the school. It was Alfano and Ava Biffer, Library Media Specialist, who originally submitted the idea for the tree-planting and memorial ceremony.
Future plans may develop to include planting other trees, bushes, and flowers, perhaps even a bench, to create a 'Memorial Garden' in the area.
"The ceremony, the tree, the firetruck, the student speakers, the song -- even the weather... were perfectly combined to help the students of the middle school make a meaningful connection to this historic day," said Alfano.
The 'pear tree' is considered by some cultures to symbolize 'longevity' and 'mankinds salvation'.
The students prepared and read original poetry for the event, and carved a special plaque out of marble to mark the tree.
First Selectman Mark Walter, Principal Jason Peacock, and Assistant Principal Roy Parker addressed the students and faculty members about the importance of honoring the first-responders, firefighters, police officers and others who sacrificed their own lives on that day in September of 2001, in their efforts to save the lives of others.