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A School’s 9/11 Losses

While schools across the country take time this week to commemorate the 5th anniversary of September, 11, 2001, Madeleine V. Leckie Elementary in Washington, D.C., has special reason to remember that day: It lost a teacher, a student, and two parents when American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon. Hilda Taylor, a teacher from Sierre Leonne devoted to boosting geographical knowledge, was on board the flight with her 6th grade student Bernard Brown II, as part of a multi-school field trip to the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. Leckie parents Johnnie Doctor and Marsha Ratchford, both Navy employees, were working inside the Pentagon when the plane was brought down. Most of the students now enrolled at Leckie are too young to remember that day, but, with help from the Washington Architectural Foundation and some donors, the school built a now-cherished memorial garden. It features a walkway lined with student handprints as well as wooden benches dedicated to those lost. “Every time you go here, it reminds you that they were nice people and they didn’t do anything wrong,” said 5th grader Arika Muse, who was in kindergarten in 2001. Now living in Florida, Bernard Brown’s mother, Senita, didn’t plan to attend the 5th anniversary ceremony at the school, but said the families of the victims remained closely connected to Leckie Elementary. “There’s nothing but love up in that school,” she said. “Genuine love.”

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