Biloxi students honor 9/11 heroes with mural

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - They are too young to remember those horrific images of the September 11th terrorist attacks eight years ago. Some weren't even born then.  Yet on Friday, the North Bay Elementary students used their creativity to honor those who lost their lives that day.

"We have about 16 X 20 chalk mural that includes a peace dove and the globe, and it also shows the Biloxi lighthouse with stars kind of streaming forth from there," said Alyce Spencer, the Art Outreach Specialist with the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum.

With a handful of chalk and their imaginations, the children got to add their own artistic touches. Ten-year-old Tabitha Berkley dedicated her patriotic masterpiece to a very special military man.

"We drew this American flag for our country and for my dad, because I'm so proud of him for serving our country," said Tabitha.  "He's in Japan right now and I'm just praying that he's all right, because I love him to death."

"I'm doing this because I love America so much," said her friend Kyra Wentzell.  "I love it to death and glad I lived in America since I was born in 1999."

Volunteers with the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum and AmeriCorps used the significance of 9-11 to encourage kids to take up a cause and help their communities.

"We've asked the students to think about ways they help their families, community, and people globally," said Spencer.  "So we asked them to begin a statement with the term "I" and we've gotten a great variety of responses, everything from students saying 'I want to be a marine biologist to save dolphins' to 'I want to find a cure for cancer.'"

One girl wrote, 'I want to volunteer for the Humane Society.'

A boy wrote, 'I want to be a better person and a helpful person to others.'

"The way that we can honor those individuals that perished is to show what's best in ourselves, and in that way, we hope their spirits carry on," Spencer said.

The art lesson taught Tabitha and her classmates that even children can make a difference on this day of service and remembrance.

The volunteers took a break to honor first responders in our area with a moment of silence and music.  They also presented them with foil-engraved plaques.

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