D'Iberville High School invited a Continental Airlines pilot, a Biloxi police officer, and a Gulfport fireman to its special September 11 ceremony.
The fireman was Tot Burkhalter. He said being asked to represent his comrades "makes me proud to be an American."
The three men joined an AMR technician in what the school called its honor guard. The foursome carried a wreath to the center of the gym. That's where D'Iberville's shop class built a replica of the World Trade Center. At the base of the display was a sheet of paper. Written on it were the names of hundreds of people who died in the terrorist attacks.
Col. Cliff Canoy of the D'Iberville ROTC organized the service. "The America of September 11, 2002 is far different than that of September 11, 2001," Col. Canoy told the D'Iberville students. "The terrorists failed."
Before the wreath came out, eight D'Iberville clubs placed a flower at the base of the display. Those students then lit candles to honor the victims.
Col. Canoy urged the D'Iberville students to always remember "what cowards masquerading as terrorists did to America on September 11th. We refuse to sacrifice our American way of life. We won't forget. We'll never forget."
A teary eyed Dana Burkhalter hugged her father after the ceremony. She said the service brought back many memories. "At first, it didn't really affect me," the sophomore student said. "But now that I sit here and think about it, I don't know, it moved me a lot."