Bronxville High School students, administrators and faculty members gathered in the school’s auditorium on Sept. 12 to pay their respects to the victims and heroes who lost their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
“No other date, no other number in history holds as much power, as much emotion as 9/11,” said senior Jack Kochansky, who was one of three student speakers to address the audience. “Most of us here had not been born yet, let alone remember it personally in any way. But we know exactly what it was, from the stories our parents have told us, from everything we have heard on the news and from the way that it has affected our lives today.”
He also reflected on his visit to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in April, where he and his classmates saw artifacts recovered from the rubble that day and learned the timeline of events.
“Walking through the museum, eerily silent, the twisted beams of steel and ash spoke for themselves,” Kochansky said. “The smashed vehicles, tattered uniforms, photos of rubble all demonstrated the awful destruction that occurred that day. And the walls covered in photos, desperate posters looking for signs of loved ones, showed us loss to an extent that we had never seen before. But more than anything else, we were struck by the evidence of utter heroism in all people, who dropped everything they were doing and united with their neighbors to help out.”
The memorial ceremony – which is organized and run each year by the senior class – also featured student reflections by Catie Burnell and Senior Class President Sophia Sulimurski.
“The Sept. 11 attacks were a test of America’s strength as a nation, and their aftermath an example of our country’s resilience,” Burnell said. “People from all walks of life united to help their fellow Americans as they arose from the tragedy and rebuilt, and our nation grows stronger still from that period of harmony – a light in a time of darkness.”
Sulimurski urged her fellow classmates – who were either not born yet or too young to remember the day – to always remember it as a day that brought together our nation and moved us to protect what we love.
“So many families lost a piece of their lives that day, and every day since we have questioned what could have been, what might have been different had that loved one been just a few minutes late to work,” she said. “This can and will never be forgotten; however, neither will the memory of bravery, of valor, of every person that came together that day to defend the ideals of this country. Be it the firefighters, doctors, construction workers or everyday citizens that spent days, weeks or even months working tirelessly at the sites of these attacks, our nation saw an unprecedented level of unity and strength in the face of tragedy.”
The tribute included a performance of “Try to Remember” by Ally Bruno and performances of the national anthem and “The Road Home” by the chorus, led by choral director Pamela Simpson. Honorary guests of the ceremony included Mayor Mary Marvin, Village Administrator Jim Palmer, members of the local fire and police departments and emergency response groups, as well as retired New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief Eugene Carty, who was a first responder on 9/11. In his remarks, Carty encouraged the students to always be kind and stand up for each other.
Social studies teacher Chris Doyle provided the closing remarks to the memorial ceremony, which honored the thousands of people who lost their lives during the attacks and the hundreds of first responders who died as a result of their rescue efforts.
“The further we are removed from the events of that day, the more important it is to remember it,” said Doyle, who lost two close friends in the attacks. “We will continue to teach about the events of Sept. 11 and how we can bring our world closer together.”