India Williams hadn’t been born yet when nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but she wants the legacy of the first responders on that fateful day to live on.

“I want to be like them,” said Williams, 17. “I want to run into danger without even thinking about it to save lives.”

Joined by her peers outside the Richmond Technical Center, the emergency medical technician in training raised a “Freedom Flag” that will fly underneath the U.S. flag through the end of September. The brief flag-raising ceremony was a connection to a “galvanizing” event the students weren’t alive for.

“This is our future,” said Charles McLeod, who teaches EMT classes at the school. “They absolutely need to understand what happened and why this is important so it’s never forgotten.”

The flag features a blue background to represent Americans united for freedom; a white star for those who lived and died for freedom; five white bars for the Pentagon; a red stripe at the top for those who died at the Pentagon and American Airlines Flight 77; two broad red stripes for the Twin Towers and those who died in those attacks; a bottom red stripe for United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania; and three white stripes for the rescue workers who responded to the attacks.

Of the 2,977 people killed on 9/11, eight were paramedics and EMTs and 60 were police officers.

Williams, a senior at Armstrong High School, called it a “big responsibility” to honor the victims by not only flying the flag, but also by going into the same career.

“It’s a touching piece of American history,” she said, adding that she’s always wanted to help people medically.

Williams and Keneajah Dorsey, a senior at George Wythe High School, said they’ve learned about the Twin Towers in school, including through videos McLeod, the teacher, has shown them of the attacks.

“Even though we weren’t alive, it’s always important to let people’s legacies live on, and that’s what I tried to do,” she said.

McLeod said the technical center is the only school in the city to fly the “Freedom Flag,” which became the official flag of remembrance for 9/11 last year.

The flag was designed by Henrico County resident Richard Melito.

Photos: A day of remembrance around the country

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Twitter: @jmattingly306

Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers K-12 schools and higher education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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