On the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, Bronxville School administrators, faculty members and high school seniors – many of whom were not born yet to remember the day – gathered in the school’s auditorium on Sept. 11 to pay their respects to the victims and heroes who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
The memorial ceremony, which is organized and run each year by the senior class, began with a moment of silence and featured student reflections by Student Faculty Legislature president Harry Villanueva, who spoke about the events of the day, and senior class president Luke Freeman, who 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.
“Although I was not alive during the attacks, my generation understands the burden, and we carry the torch of freedom,” Villanueva said. “We recognize sacrifice so that those who lost their lives would not be in vain.”
Villanueva said he will always remember all those who died on 9/11 and the courage and service of the first responders who gave their lives to save others.
In his reflection, Freeman spoke about the acts and stories of bravery, courage and resilience that brought our country together on the day itself and immediately after 9/11. He recounted how Todd Beamer, a passenger on Flight 93, led an uprising against the hijackers who had gained control of the plane and were planning on crashing it into the White House.
“In the face of certain death, this ordinary citizen, along with a few others, overcame the hijackers and forced Flight 93 down in a field in Pennsylvania, sacrificing themselves as they saved the lives of others,” Freeman said. “Beamer’s last audible words, before the Flight 93 log cuts out, is a calm, yet rallying, ‘Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.’”
Freeman urged his classmates to remember 9/11 as a day that brought together our nation and to think of the impact it had on everyone.
“From the first responders who risked their lives by heading into the carcinogenic, burning rubble without a moment’s hesitation, to Todd Beamer and the passengers of Flight 93, the duty is ours to carry on and protect their legacy through remembrance,” he said. “We must never forget what happened that sunny day in early September and the people who died that day. Let’s remember the way our country came together after it happened and strive to bring that same national unity into our present lives.”
The tribute included performances of the national anthem and “We Rise Again” by the chorus, led by director Pamela Simpson, as well as performances of “When September Ends” and “The Side of the Road” by students Theo Liao, Walker May, Reid Portner and Chris Visconti. Honorary guests of the ceremony included Mayor Mary Marvin, Bronxville Police Chief Christopher Satriale, members of the local police department and retired New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief Eugene Carty, who was a first responder on 9/11.
Social studies teacher Chris Doyle, who hosted the memorial ceremony and provided the closing remarks, recalled the clear blue skies that overlooked Manhattan and recounted the disbelief and shock he experienced that day.
“In many ways it still feels unbelievable that it even happened and now that almost all of the students here at Bronxville are born after 9/11, it becomes even more important that we remember and honor those lost, those who continue to suffer diseases from their efforts on that day and the days that followed and try to make sense of it in the world we live in today,” Doyle said.