Patriotism was the theme of the day as the Fort Leavenworth school district hosted the 11th annual Freedom Walk on Tuesday morning at Normandy Field.

Students and staff at each of the four schools on the military installation gathered for the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

MacArthur Elementary School sixth-grader Angelica Shea said that “our independence is the backbone of our society.”

Shea was one of four Fort Leavenworth school district students chosen to give a short speech about what freedom means to them.

Natalia Bergdorf, a sixth-grader at Bradley Elementary School, said “freedom is everything to me.”

Eisenhower Elementary School sixth-grader Meryn Thebeau said “freedom equals rights for everyone.”

She said that she was “proud to be a military kid.”

“My dad is one of the many fathers that had to go overseas to fight for our country’s freedom,” she said. “I am very thankful for my dad and for freedom.”

Willant Hassell, a ninth-grader from Patton Junior High School who is from Australia, said that he was honored to be chosen to give a speech about freedom.

“Remembering those who were lost on 9/11 is a powerful reminder of the freedoms we enjoy and should embrace every day,” he said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Campbell, the guest speaker for Tuesday’s event, said the 9/11 attacks “reinvigorated America” and made the country stronger.

The event also included members of the Leavenworth High School JROTC color guard and a performance by the Patton Singers.

Music teachers in the Fort Leavenworth school system led the audience in the singing of several patriotic songs.

Organizers of the event said more than 1,700 students were in attendance. Total attendance, including school staff and parents, was said to be 2,500 people.