Cheerleaders 9/11 routine. So good, it'll make you cry.Posted by Crystalynn Petoskey on Friday, September 11, 2015
The cheer squad at Lumberton High School is speaking out against claims that their 9/11 tribute routine was insensitive.
Cheer sponsor Lauren Sheffield told E! News that members of the Texas-based team take their annual tradition of commemorating the 2001 terrorist attacks "very seriously," adding, "We do this because we believe it is very important to honor and remember the first responders, those who gave their lives, and those who still mourn the hole left by lost loved ones."
On Friday, the team's routine to "God Bless the U.S.A." which included audio remarks from President George W. Bush and news reports surrounding the event, was uploaded to Facebook. Since then, the performance has been viewed a staggering 22 million times and counting, prompting many to weigh in on the controversy surrounding the viral video.
Some praised the cheerleaders for putting on such an "amazing" tribute, while others found the performance "cringeworthy" and "tasteless."
The Lumberton High School cheer squad has performed a 9/11-themed routines since 2002, and Sheffield believes the team's hard work and dedication is "making a difference in the lives of our community."
Sheffield also says the video's overwhelming response was a major surprise to the team.
"It is certainly never anything we could have ever imagined," she said. "We are totally humbled that something we work hard on, year after year, can make such a huge impact," continuing, "One of our cheerleaders, Rachel Richard, put it perfectly, 'This wasn't a way for us to show off. It was a way for us to use our skills in honor of our country.'"
But like most things, Sheffield says her team members have learned a very important lesson in taking the good and the bad.
"One thing we have stressed to our girls, in light of this whirlwind of a weekend, is that with anything positive, there will always be people who have something negative to say," she said. "It is an unfortunate and hard lesson to learn; but it is very important that throughout life, they always focus on the positives and not let those things prevent them from doing what they love and making an impact on those around them."
What are your thoughts on the cheer routine? Sound off in the comments below!
—Reporting by Holly Passalaqua