Students at Hidden Valley Middle School raised an American flag and sang songs for first responders in the Bluffdale Fire Department during a “Sunrise Salute to Patriots Day” on Friday.
The ceremony was held in front of the school to honor first responders and members of the military for the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
The students who participated in the ceremony were not born when the twin towers fell, but they said the Sunrise Salute was an important reminder of the tragedy that occurred on that day.
“It’s very touching because we weren’t there to experience it firsthand, but we’re seeing teachers and people who did remember it tearing up...” said student body officer Lucy Richins. “Everyone experienced it differently and we’re seeing how everyone was brought together by it.”
Principal Shawn McLeod said the ceremony was held to emphasize to students the need to remember and pay respects to the families impacted by the attack. He reminded the students that nearly 3,000 people died and more than 6,000 were injured on that day.
“That single act of terror reunited our country to rebuild, to stand united, to stand strong, and to make a statement to the rest of the world that these acts will not defeat us. They will unite us,” McLeod said.
Students and their parents recited the Pledge of Allegiance and held a moment of silence for those impacted by the attack. The school’s concert choir performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” before joining the audience in singing the first verse of “Amazing Grace” to conclude the ceremony.
McLeod had to kneel by the piano and hold the sheet music to keep it from blowing away in the Bluffdale wind during the final song.
Richins, 14, said that the student body officers interviewed teachers and staff at Hidden Valley to learn more about what happened 20 years ago. Most of the people they interviewed said they could remember exactly where they were when it happened and that they would never forget that day.
“That really kind of shook me personally,” Richins said. “So many people remember [9/11] and hearing how scary it was and how it brought everyone together and the unity that was made after it was really cool.”
Richins said that the school’s police officer joined the military after the attack and said one of her teachers told her that they were afraid of being drafted into the military in the aftermath. Another teacher was still in elementary school at the time and said her substitute teacher’s mother-in-law was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
“Seeing some of our teachers tear up is really touching,” Richins said. “To see how much they care and were affected by this event, it’s cool to hear about.”
Student body officer Hudson Winn, 14, said it was “really scary” to watch the video of the attack on YouTube.
“I personally think this brought our country closer together and made our country more powerful and more protected,” Winn said. “It’s very memorable because it made us really strong... It just makes our country more aware that if we get knocked down, we can get back up again.”
The students were released to work on schoolwork at home because the ceremony fell on one of Jordan School District’s “Flexible Fridays”.
Richins said that unfolding and raising the flag for first responders was a “proud moment.”
“Even though as a student body, none of us were born, we can still show respect event for the event and how much we want to learn about it and how much we care about it,” Richins said.