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Dickinson students celebrate the Constitution and local heroes

Students from Berg Elementary School, left Kate Enney and Noah Meacham, hold their Berg Constitution during the Constitution and Citizenship day in Dickinson on Friday. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults) 1 / 2
Local heroes are thanked for their service to protect by students at the Constitution and Citizenship assembly on Friday. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults)2 / 2

Students from Dickinson's Berg Elementary School and Hagen Junior High School stood in the dreary weather on Friday morning at the Phil Patterson Memorial Bandshell to celebrate.

Community members and teachers helped the students celebrate the Constitution and Citizenship day with an assembly beside the Stark County Veterans' Memorial. While the schools make Constitution Day a regular event, this is the first year it has taken place at Memorial Park.

Jack Goodall, a sixth-grader at Berg, said it was his first time at the program and he was thankful for being able to attend.

"It's really cool because not everyone gets this freedom of being an American and it's nice that I get to have that," he said.

Constitution Day is held on or near Sept. 16 every year. Dickinson State University will be holding its Constitution celebration at 4 p.m. Monday in Beck Auditorium.

Constitution Day observes the signing of the Constitution and those who are U.S. citizens.

"It is a day to remind us that our U.S. Constitution is the oldest working Constitution in the world," Berg Principal Shawn Leiss said. "Not only is it the oldest working Constitution in the world, it serves as a model to Democratic nations all over the world."

The program also discussed the importance of Sept. 11, 2001. The 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. was observed on Sunday.

Carol Pritchard, a retired teacher at Hagen, shared with the students the life and death of Ann Nelson, a North Dakotan killed in the terrorists attack on the World Trade Center and the heroism of those who tried to protect those after the attacks.

"The acts of terrorism committed against the United States that day have truly affected us all in ways that we may not yet understand," she said. "It is very important that we never forget the 2,819 civilians from 115 different nations, the 343 firefighters and paramedics, the 23 New York policeman and the 37 Port Authority officers who lost their lives that day. They were the first responders to this brutal and deadly act and gave no thought to their safety. They were called to protect and that is what they did."

Mitch Meier, a seventh-grade geography teacher at Hagen, said he appreciated that the day included honoring local heroes.

"This is the first year that we've had the hometown heroes, and it is nice to have them up here because it shows all of these kids that there is more to life than what they know and there a lot of people out there that make things go that we probably don't even think about," he said.

Local heroes—firefighters, military personnel, policeman, etc.—lined the stage as students were encouraged to say "thank you" to the people in the community that keep them safe.

Goodall said hearing about the terrorist attacks makes him wonder why anyone would do that.

"I don't understand why the people would do it," he said. "It's just horrible."

Meier said, as a teacher who was alive during the attacks, it's an interesting opportunity to teach students who were born before the attacks.

"Most of the stuff we talk about is before my time so I can't give a firsthand account," he said. "But that's one of the few things that has happened recently that I can actually talk about firsthand."

Dickinson Mayor Scott Decker, a U.S. Army veteran who served during the War on Terror, was at the assembly and said the addition of the local heroes was important for the students.

"I just thought it was very appropriate and I think the kids enjoyed it," he said. "I know they came away with a better appreciation for what everybody does in the community."