JROTC commemorates 9/11
JACKSON TWP — Although none of them were born yet, 38 members of the Seneca Valley Junior ROTC spent Friday morning honoring the 2,977 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
During first and second period, the JROTC held a ceremony at the flagpole on the school district’s secondary campus to commemorate the national tragedy remembered by so many.
The four-person JROTC Color Guard, resplendent in their dress uniforms, marched in unison to the flagpole and stood at attention while one cadet slowly lowered Old Glory to half staff.
The other cadets, dressed in civilian clothing, stood at attention and saluted as The Stars and Stripes was lowered.
Alexis Bardos, Seneca Valley JROTC senior battalion commander, addressed the cadets from a podium during the ceremony.
“We honor the memory of the lives lost on September 11, 2001, and every hero who has given their life since that day,” Alexis said.
She said the aftermath of the attacks demonstrated the courage and resiliency of the American people, and that she was moved by the bravery of the passengers of Flight 93, the police, firemen and emergency medical personnel who rushed into the burning Twin Towers and those who cleared the debris and rebuilt after the attacks.
“Their actions are forged into the memories of our great nation,” Alexis said.
She then listed the time of each attack and what happened, before cadet Logan Randall played Taps from beneath a nearby tree that swayed in the autumn breeze.
Alexis listed three categories of Americans affected by the attacks on 9/11 — men, women and children who lost their lives in the attacks; military personnel and first responders; and the thousands of families who lost loved ones — and one cadet among those standing at attention shouted “We will not forget!” after each.
C.J. Rieder, a Seneca Valley senior and the JROTC commanding sergeant major, participated in his fourth 9/11 commemoration ceremony on Friday.
“It’s very important that we actually remember the tragedy and that the younger generation learns about the atrocity that happened so it doesn’t happen again,” C.J. said.
Alexis said she hopes the ceremony spurs patriotism among her peers.
“I feel sad for the families who lost somebody, but grateful that the people in my family who were in the military survived, and I appreciate all they have given,” she said.
Briana Thomas, a Seneca Valley junior and JROTC member who stood at attention during the ceremony, called the events of 9/11 “awful.”
“Because of the lack of security, many lives were lost,” Briana said. “It never should be forgotten.”
Hayden Pearce, a senior and personnel officer with the JROTC, said it is of utmost importance to protect democracy.
“Sometimes people make sacrifices, and I feel they should be honored, always,” Hayden said.
Howard Keebler, a retired Army colonel and the Army instructor for JROTC at Seneca Valley, said the annual flag-lowering ceremony is important.
“The students need to remember what happened on 9/11 and respect the loss Americans suffered during that time period,” Keebler said.