Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

Patriot Day was celebrated Sept. 11 at St. Joseph Catholic School in Rice Lake. The ceremony was hosted by fifth- and sixth-grade students and livestreamed in lieu of in person attendance. It included a musical tribute and a brief address with questions and answers by the local police chief, an alumnus of the school.

Chief of Police for the Rice Lake Police Department Steven Roux graduated in 1993 from the eighth grade at St. Joseph Catholic School.

Chief Roux shared that he is proud of the many good memories he has from his years at the school. He added that what he experienced and learned at the school helped him, a naturally shy child, get to where he is today.

He also spoke about the connection between his career in law enforcement and presentations made by police officers. Roux encouraged students to keep their eyes and ears open to opportunities offered them at the school for what their callings might be and how they might serve their community, personally and/or professionally.

Roux remembers “Officer Friendly” visiting their kindergarten classroom to talk about his job and the love he felt for serving his community. The visit made a lasting impression.

He later found out that officer’s name – Michael Baribeau. Officer Baribeau served the Rice Lake City Police Department and was shot in the line of duty in 1995.

“He ended up giving his life for the community serving in the capacity that he did,” Roux said, illustrating there was action behind the words he had spoken.

Roux enumerated the things he had learned at St. Joseph’s that have been helpful in his career: Be a good person, be helpful, have good character, listen, give your best effort, give back and work hard.

Two other musical pieces were performed and the Pledge of Allegiance followed. After the final phrase of the pledge, “With liberty and justice for all,” students added, “born and unborn.”

Students individually came to the podium to explain Patriot’s Day origin as a commemoration of lives lost as a result of the September 11 attacks in 2011. One student added that family members of those deceased also have made the day an effort to serve others as a lasting legacy to their loved ones.

Members of the military and first responders who took part in rescue and recovery efforts after 9/11 were acknowledged and special mention was given to 2020’s “new set of heroes,” all of the essential workers on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we remember that day in history, we are living history right now. And we are the patriots who will help our country stay strong,” another student stated.

A concluding invitation was, “What will you do to help others this week?”