Macomb Lutheran North senior Leyna Gatti recited former President George W. Bush’s 9/11 address to the nation as part of the 11th annual Patriot Walk. The remembrance is a collaboration between North and St. Peter Macomb.

Macomb Lutheran North senior Leyna Gatti recited former President George W. Bush’s 9/11 address to the nation as part of the 11th annual Patriot Walk. The remembrance is a collaboration between North and St. Peter Macomb.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Macomb Township schools commemorate 9/11

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published September 18, 2019

 The walk included a roughly 1-mile stroll through a subdivision in Macomb Township. Around 900 students, along with teachers and staff, participated.

The walk included a roughly 1-mile stroll through a subdivision in Macomb Township. Around 900 students, along with teachers and staff, participated.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The theme of the day was simple: “We still remember.”

On Sept. 11, the 18th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in American history, the entire student body and staff of St. Peter Macomb Lutheran School, along with Macomb Lutheran North, took time to honor 9/11.

The morning included an opening ceremony at North’s football stadium, with comments from Leyna Gatti, a senior at North; North teacher John Brandt; and Marine veteran Steve Orzechowski.

Gatti recited former President George W. Bush’s 9/11 address to the nation, originally delivered from the Oval Office.

Brandt said one reason the schools gather on 9/11 is a reminder that, “There is evil in the world.”

“Today, we remember those horrific acts that occurred 18 years ago, when nearly 3,000 people died at the hands of terrorists attempting to thwart our freedom,” he said.

Orzechowski, a Sterling Heights native, joined the Marines in 2003. He was in the military six years, enduring two combat tours in Iraq.

“I was 19 on 9/11, working at Swartz Distributing,” he said. “I had no idea what was happening after the first plane hit.”

After the ceremony, around 900 students, along with teachers and staff, walked roughly one mile through the subdivision behind the schools for the 11th annual Patriot Walk.

Local officials who attended the event were Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn and Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis. Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and Macomb Township Fire Chief Robert Phillips also were in attendance.

Wickersham said 9/11 will always be a part of American history.

“It gives the kids an opportunity to understand what occurred and why it occurred and what we need to do to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

On the morning of 9/11, Wickersham was in his office and remembers watching the events unfold on TV.

“We brought the command staff together and started to think about what we might need to do if something were to happen around here,” he said. “Thankfully, nothing was going on in our area.”    

Lutheran North theology teacher Brian Horvath, who began teaching at the school in 2001, said it’s important on 9/11 to remember the sacrifices made on behalf of the nation.

“Life happens and we often forget some of the most important aspects of what happened and how we got to where we are,” he said.

Macomb County Sheriff Lt. Steve Briney, whose children attended North, said he went to Maryland on Sept. 8, 2001, for police training. He was around 25 miles from the Pentagon when it was attacked.

“We were in class when the planes hit and they showed it on TV,” he said. “There was a lot of innocent lives affected, law enforcement and fire. Instead of running the opposite way, they ran into the building. It’s still upsetting the way these families were impacted where they have no more loved ones anymore.”

In addition to participating in the walk, each child was asked to obtain pledges, with proceeds benefiting the MI Freedom Center.

The center, whose mission is to provide a welcome and friendly respite to traveling military members, veterans and their families, was incorporated in 2011.

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