The September 11 terrorist attacks on our nation took place 17 years ago, making that dark day, an historical event not a memory, for our students.
To be sure, the attacks had a profound impact on the United States and the rest of the world. The U.S. Congress designated September 11 as “Patriot Day” to remember and honor those who died. For its part Gibbons, like many high schools across the nation, is marking the 17th anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers in New York City and on the Pentagon in Washington DC with a variety of reflection and prayer opportunities, including a special memorial display, sponsored by the History Club.
According to Taylor Blanton, Social Studies Educator and History Club moderator, members of the club placed 2,977 flags in the Quad, the outdoor area between the Learning Commons and the Library. The flags represent the number of people who died in the attacks, including civilians, military personnel in the Pentagon and the emergency fire fighters, police and medical workers who arrived at the scenes. Taylor said that while most of the flags are American flags, there also are international flags for those citizens of other nations who were killed in the attacks.
Along with the memorial, on display the entire day, there was a moment of silence and prayer during morning announcements at 8:50 AM, around the time the first plane hit the twin towers; and later in the morning Fr. Daniel celebrated a Memorial Mass in Queen of All Saints Chapel. Educators also incorporated some aspect of September 11 into their classroom lesson that day.
Indeed, Theology Educator Patrick Dmytriw was among the educators who conducted class in the outdoor classroom in the Quad overlooking the memorial, talking to his students about the events of that long-ago day. Additionally, students and educators are invited after school to write thank you notes to local first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers, as well as to soldiers.
Explaining why the History Club prepared a September 11 remembrance this year Taylor said: “We’ve wanted to find ways to get the History Club more involved in service opportunities, and this seemed like a great way to remember an important event, recognize the victims and the heroes, as well as to say thank you to those who continue to serve our communities.”
History Club President Sean Cleary ’19 agreed and added: “As most of the students here were not even alive on September 11, 2001, we thought a visual representation of the huge amount of loss of life would be very powerful. While we placed the flags, the sheer quantity overwhelmed me, and I hope other students have that reaction.”