SUNNYSIDE — On Wednesday morning, Sept. 11, about 950 Harrison Middle School students, faculty and district officials, along with fire, police and city representatives, commemorated the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States with a solemn program and powerful message to never forget.
“You have to remember a lot of our kids have fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles in the military. So, this is very meaningful for them. Because we have wars that are still going on as a result of what happened on 9/11,” Band Director and Golden Apple award-winner Greg Kirk stated.
Students were provided with classroom instruction about the significance of 9/11. They also viewed a documentary and multimedia presentation created specifically for the young audience which provided a sensitive and informative account of the tragic events.
“I felt remorse. It’s very sad to look back at how so many people got hurt and there wasn’t that much we could do because of how sudden and unexpected it was. It happened so fast,” seventh grade student Alana Tabarez acknowledged.
Since 2002, an annual ceremony takes place at the campus courtyard to remember the day and to honor the 2,993 men, women and children killed in the horrific attacks at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon and those aboard Flight 93 who lost their lives.
Tabarez said, she and her first-period science classmates gained a greater appreciation for the people who answered the call of duty and acted.
“It’s good that we keep it with us. So, we can keep it as a lesson and remember the great people who did support us like the first responders and heroes behind the scenes,” the soon to be 13-year old communicated.
The school’s traditional salute featured the eighth grade band, seventh and eighth grade choir, student body members who spoke about the importance of heroism and for generations to never forget about 9/11, prior to a 21-gun salute by the Lower Valley Honor Guard along with the rooftop performance of “Taps” played by Elijah Wise.
The evolving program stands as an important reminder for how Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance connects Americans across the country with students who weren’t born at the time.
“It’s really cool for the kids to get the opportunity to see a ceremony like this and to honor those who lost their lives. To get the police, fire, city officials and veterans all involved is very impactful for our students and our community,” Principal Tyler Rice expressed.
Patriots’ Day is not a federal holiday - schools and businesses remain open in observance of the occasion. On this day, people are called to volunteer in their local communities in tribute to the individuals lost and injured in the attacks, first responders, and the many who have risen in service to defend freedom.
For Sunnyside Fire Chief Ken Anderson, who was with the Baltimore County Fire Department during the 9/11 event, recalled how the day started in typical fire station protocol apart from a plate falling off the counter to being dispatched and moved up all the way out to the Pentagon - the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
“It was kind of a devastating scene. The chaos is what I probably remember the most. There was so much happening, and people were like, what’s next,” conveyed Anderson.
The patriotic symbolism of 9/11, spirit of unity and service that inspired Americans to stand shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism, is what Anderson proudly reflects upon now. “I’m glad that this day solidified the country at the time and I’m hoping we can maintain that solidarity.”
Americans are also encouraged to display flags at half-mast at their homes. Additionally, a moment of silence is observed to correspond with the attacks, beginning at 8:46 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time), the time the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
“I think it’s very important because it shows young people that there is good and there can always be good through the bad. Ever since 9/11 happened, we as a nation have been closer and more understanding of each other even through our arguments and different sides,” Tabarez reaffirmed.