Bronxville High School seniors – many of whom were not born yet to remember the 9/11 terror attacks – gathered on the school’s front lawn on Sept. 10 to pay their respects to the victims and heroes who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
The ceremony, commemorating the 20th anniversary, began with the chorus’ performance of the national anthem, followed by a moment of silence and reflections by students and community members, who spoke about the events of the day and reflected on the aftermath of 9/11. They honored the victims and heroes who were killed during the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania – the worst foreign attack on American soil that took more than 3,000 lives.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that Tuesday morning that saw so many lives lost and the families that were affected,” social studies teacher Chris Doyle said. “All the students currently attending the Bronxville School were born after Sept. 11, 2001. We gathered to remember and, for many of our students, to learn about that day.”
In her reflection, senior Bethany Lee vowed to never forget the loss of American lives that day and the inexplicable cruelty that shook the nation to its core.
“We must continue to make the effort – every year on the anniversary of 9/11 – to remember the precious lives that were lost and to swear to ourselves and our posterity to treasure every moment of our lives and work tirelessly to ensure that our liberty and freedom are secure from those that wish nothing more than to take them away from us,” she said.
Senior Carmen Phillips said her father, who was a young professional working in midtown at the time, was profoundly impacted by the tragic events as he recounts his story year after year.
“My father says he vividly remembers the moment the towers collapsed,” she said. “He stood up to see the south tower crumbling, engulfed in a billow of smoke. Hysteria began to sweep over the office as newscasters notified the public that these planes were hijacked, and they were not the only ones. People scrambled to get out of the building, worried theirs would be next, and onto the street, where thousands of New Yorkers already stood, all watching these iconic symbols of America’s achievement collapse.”
In his remarks, Ty Chermsirivatana reflected on the impact that 9/11 had on his family and the importance of a community that came together to lend a hand. He described how his parents had spent their entire life savings to lease a spot at South Street Seaport, a business district turned historical site, that became deserted in the aftermath of 9/11.
“Sales sank and my parents couldn’t make even a single dollar,” he said. “However, when the customers disappeared, the community of vendors and business owners in the area stepped up and bought my parent’s goods. My parents were overwhelmed by their help. It was thanks to them that my parents were able to stay afloat that year.”
During the ceremony, the students also heard reflections by Alexa Pappas Zannetos, an attorney who worked on the 65th floor of the south tower, and Dr. Cecilia Cristanti, a family medicine physician and epidemiologist who works at Bellevue Hospital. In her remarks, Zannetos recalled the clear blue skies that overlooked Manhattan, recounted the flickering lights as she made her way down the stairwell when the second plane hit and remembered the courage of the first responders and innocent lives that were lost that day. Dr. Cristanti shared stories from patients who survived 9/11 and discussed the effects of exposure to the contaminated environment.
Honorary guests of the ceremony included members of the local police and fire departments, as well as members of the Board of Education, administrators, veterans and local politicians. The tribute concluded with a performance of “We Rise Again” by the chorus, led by director Pamela Simpson and accompanied by Jonathan Faiman.