ADAMS TWP — There isn't a high school student today who can remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville.
But 19 years after the fall of the Twin Towers, the crash of United Flight 93 and the deaths of 2,977 people, Americans still remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
Across the country, communities worked around pandemic parameters to commemorate those who died as a direct result of the terrorist attacks.
At Mars Area High School, a group of community volunteers joined forces Thursday to carry on the district's tradition of installing a flag display along Route 228.
“Every year that they've been doing this, it looks so nice,” said Ron Taylor, a volunteer. “We just wanted to make sure (it did again).”
The display, which includes 2,977 6-inch flags planted in the high school's front lawn, last year was organized by students and instructors in the Mars-Pine-Richland JROTC program.
But because of social distancing regulations followed by Mars Area and Pine-Richland school districts, students weren't able to gather last week to once more install the flags.
“Our students are logging into the JROTC course at Pine-Richland virtually this year,” said Lindsay Rosswog, high school principal.
Ron Taylor and his wife, Connie, have grandchildren who attend Mars Area Centennial School.
Connie Taylor contacted the district to ask if local volunteers would be able to plant the flags in place of the JROTC.
“We were very excited and honored to have a community member reach out and support us in this unusual time,” Rosswog said.
JROTC instructors collaborated with the district to gather the display elements and instructions before passing them on to the Taylors. The volunteers took things from there.
On Thursday morning, the Taylors worked with 15 other “civic-minded” community members spanning three generations to plot and plant the flags.
Finding people who wanted to help was easy, according to the Taylors.
“We could have had many more,” Connie Taylor said. “But we thought that was plenty. (It) worked well.”
Rosswog said she's proud to be part of a supportive community, especially during a difficult and busy time.
She hopes the 9/11 flag display will spark conversation and reflection. The community volunteers have taken up an important torch, according to Rosswog.
“I am so appreciative of their efforts,” Rosswog said. “Especially (for) our students who do not have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 tragedy.”
For the community members, volunteering a few hours of spare time is worth it if it helps citizens remember what happened 19 years ago.
“Just as the sign says,” Ron Taylor said. “'We'll never forget.'”