Barbara Jordan Celebrates America

By Mitzi Loera
Newswest 9

Odessa - Trading their normal lunchroom setting students at Barbara Jordan Elementary, and their families crowded into the gymnasium to celebrate and to recognize some very important people.

First responders poured into the gym one by one. To be honored.

"We started the celebrate America luncheon in 2001 after 9/11," said Principal Jan Brown.

It was all a way to honor first responders here at home for the work they do.

"It sort of grew from that it's such a rewarding thing for us to do, because it makes us feel like at least we get the opportunity to say thank you," said Brown.

And hundreds of students, faculty and their families said thank you to this group of elite men and women for putting their lives on the line everyday.

"Our kids don't understand violence like what happened with our three officers, so its confusing to them to know that something like that could actually happen, and they need to know that we still have people here that work everyday to keep us safe," said Brown.

Corporals Gardner, Jones, and Marquez were not forgotten in today's tribute, reminders of the fallen officers were visible everywhere.

"This one has a more special meaning this year," said Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.

"Look at the turn out we had here today, there is a lot of support. All the agencies are here it just seem that we have become a lot closer," said Cpl. Gabriel Hernandez.

"To be able to sit down with the kids to sit right beside them, and eat with them it's really great, it give them the chance to see us as normal people," said Donaldson.

"The kids that I've talked to today all their questions have been how are you doing? It seems like they know what we're going through for these young men and women. These kids for them to ask us that, it does mean a lot it's comforting," Donaldson said.