JACKSON TWP — At 8:45 a.m. last Wednesday — almost 18 years to the minute after American Airlines Flight 11 was deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center — the Seneca Valley Senior High School JROTC began its ceremony to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The emotional impact of this year's ceremony was slightly different from those in the past, said Maj. Richard Coleman, as many seniors at the high school were not yet born when the attacks occurred.
“It's like (the bombing of Pearl Harbor on) 12/7/41 to them,” Coleman said. “It's a historic moment.”
The student-led event simultaneously honored the loss endured by the nation due to the attacks while also allowing students to see the event's gravity.
After Cadet Cmdr. JonMark Marotta read remarks about Sept. 11, he invited students and staff in attendance to participate in a moment of silence while cadets lowered the flags to half-staff.
Following that, cadet Nathaniel Nuzzo played taps to honor those killed during the attacks and signify the end of the ceremony.
Marotta said the event is a way to ensure students who were not alive on Sept. 11 or do not remember the attacks understand its importance.
“Us doing it is a way to keep it alive,” Marotta said.
Principal Bob Ceh agreed, comparing the event to a history lesson.
“It's a way of teaching about the past,” Ceh said. “It's more emotional, more engaging.”
This is the third year the district has held the student-led event, and despite the logistical problems of the 8:45 a.m. starting time — around when classes change — it has drawn a large presence of students, staff and teachers at the ceremony, Ceh said.