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How Will You Remember?

Young people organize Freedom Walks to remember 9/11

By Kajal Jani | September 11 , 2007
11-year-old Freedom Walk organizer Joey Rizzolo (center) marches in Paramus, New Jersey, on September 9, 2007. (Photo: Courtesy of Kajal Jani)
11-year-old Freedom Walk organizer Joey Rizzolo (center) marches in Paramus, New Jersey, on September 9, 2007. (Photo: Courtesy of Kajal Jani)

For more of Scholastic News Online's coverage of September 11, read our special report.

How will you remember the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? In Paramus, New Jersey, more than 300 people joined in a Freedom Walk on Sunday. The walk was organized by 11-year-old Joey Rizzolo, his family, friends, and teachers, to remember those who are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Joey got the idea for a Freedom Walk from the U.S. Department of Defense Web site. He was on the site researching a school project called Operation Goody-Bag when he read about a 9-year-old student who had organized a walk in his town.

The program is part of “America Supports You,” a 3-year-old Defense Department program that connects people with military personnel and their families. With the help of his computer teacher, Joey formed a committee of 10 friends to help. He also asked teachers and family to get involved.

“Everyone was very supportive,” he told Scholastic News Online.

WHAT IT TAKES


The first thing Joey and his committee did was raise money. One fund-raising event brought in more than $5,000. The group also recruited sponsors, each of which gave $500 or more. Sponsors include Applebee’s, Commerce Bank, Outback Steakhouse, BJ’s Wholesale, and the Mayor and Paramus’s town council.

With the money raised, the group bought T-shirts for walkers and volunteers.

Next came the effort to promote the event. After a meeting that included members of the town council, the Mayor, and the Board of Education, the mayor agreed that event fliers could be put up on town bulletin boards. Joey’s group also made signs for the walk, and bought bottled water and food for the walkers.

Joey announced he intends for this to be an annual event. “I look forward to organizing many more walks in the future,” he said. He is writing a book on his experiences to help others follow the Paramus example in their own communities.

AROUND THE NATION

Freedom Walks are happening around the nation this week to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Officials are expecting about 230 similar walks to be held, with locations in all 50 states and 10 countries around the world. More than 8,000 people have registered to walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the Pentagon on September 11. The Pentagon was one of three sites attacked on that date six years ago.

"I think more than ever, our military men and women need to know that we support them," said Stephanie Linder, the national Freedom Walk coordinator. "It's really meant to just show thanks for these people that are day in and day out putting their necks on the line for our freedoms."

Critical Thinking Question

Read today's news story, and then answer the following question.

Where were you on September 11, 2001? What will you do to remember that day?

Join a discussion of this question on our bulletin board.

About the Author

Kajal Jani is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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