JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) — Thursday morning, Johnson County will pause to honor the lives lost 20 years ago on Sept. 11 with a commemorative ceremony at the south lawn of the Johnson County Administration Building on Cherry Street in Olathe.
The parents of Navy serviceman Ronald Hemenway, who was killed in the attack on the Pentagon, will attend the ceremony.
On Wednesday, Olathe West students who are members of the 21st Century Public Safety Academy placed 2,977 American flags for the event to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“This is a tribute to all of the lives lost on 9/11,” student Isabela Barahona-Negrete said.
The flags are a visual representation of each person who was killed during the terrorist attacks that changed America two decades ago.
“These students are learning all about what happened that day and how those firemen and police officers coped with that tragedy,” Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jesse Valdez said.
“It was a traumatic experience for everyone,” student Kinzie Taylor said. “They always have those flashbacks of what happened that day.”
The students said they each remember what they’ve learned about the historic day from their classrooms and their parents.
“How the firefighters died trying to save people that were stuck in the building,” student Levi Amos said. Amos hopes to become a law enforcement officer.
Student Jerry Walker, who wants to become a firefighter, says he has watched several Sept. 11 documentaries.
“Firefighters were going up those towers and, most of them, knowing that they’re not going to go back down,” Walker said. “It’s really honorable because they knew that they were going to save a bunch of lives and they were definitely risking theirs.”
The group of future law enforcement officers and firefighters take pride in possibly becoming a first responder like the men and women who helped survivors of that tragic day.
“When I get old enough, I can do the same thing,” Amos said.
“I’ll just feel honored to know that maybe in the future I can save people,” Walker said.
The last American flag will be placed tomorrow by Bob and Shirley Hemenway from Shawnee for their 37-year-old son, Ronald Hemenway, who was killed in the attack on the Pentagon.
“As a symbol of their son’s life,” Valdez said. “We want to make sure people never forget.”
Thursday’s commemorative event begins at 8 a.m. It will be livestreamed for anyone in the community to watch online at jocogov.org/JohnsonCountyRemembers and on the “Johnson County, KS Government” Facebook page.
Limited seating for the dedication will be available.