VALHALLA, N.Y. Every year on or around 9/11, Valhalla Middle/High School conducts a ceremony in remembrance of those who perished on that day in 2001, but this year the ceremony means more than ever.
This being the 10th anniversary we wanted to do something bigger but also we recognize that theres a historical-educational component, said Valhalla High School Principal Jonathan Thomas of the current students who were very young on 9/11/01. A lot of the kids that were sitting [in the audience] really dont have an actual memory of what happened and while they may have lived through it, theres also an obligation on our part to introduce the history and make sure they learn that.
The ceremony took place at the Valhalla football field and the Middle/High School students packed the bleachers to listen to commemorative speeches, the singing of God Bless America by a group of student vocalists, and a rendition of Taps played by Aidan Dore.
We had firefighters, police, and paramedics from stations all over the United States that came in to help at Ground Zero and we want to make sure that we remember that and thank those individuals, even though we cant do it in person, Thomas said.
Members of Valhalla Police Department, Fire Department and Ambulance Corps were present at the ceremony for the flag raising. Volunteer Ambulance Corps member Patrick Durante, who was honored to be a part of the ceremony, witnessed the tragic events of September 11, in person.
I was present when the World Trade center was hit, Durante said. I was just a couple of blocks away and saw the second plane hit and its just a very emotional time for me every year. Being the 10th anniversary is kind of a milestone and being invited here to partake in the memorial ceremony is an honor and I appreciate it.
Middle School Principal Steven Garcia was also glad that the students were able be a part of the ceremony, even if they cant remember the actual events.
Theyve heard of it, theyve read about it, or have seen it in the news so its good to make sure the kids in school see a connection, Garcia said. They may not have been around or aware when it did happened, but it was something that affected everyone and it will continue to affect them.
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