For those old enough to remember 9/11, it might feel like it happened yesterday. But for many of today’s high school students, they weren’t even alive when the war on terror began.
Despite the age difference, unity could easily be found in St. Joseph in two contrasting events.
On Wednesday morning, high school juniors and seniors in the fire sciences program walked up and down a flight of stairs 110 times at the Hillyard Technical Center in solidarity with first responders who rushed toward the Twin Towers on that fateful September day.
None of those participating were alive at the time.
“When our chief was telling us about how many people died, all the firefighters or all the police, I was thinking about that,” Tyler Bardue, a junior from Benton High School, said. “It sucks. It motivated me.”
At Civic Center Park, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter hosted a memorial service. It was complete with the playing of taps, the presentation of colors and patriotic songs like “Have You Forgotten?” and “God Bless America.”
The guest speaker was Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett, who at times got choked up during his speech. He spoke of the firefighters, police officers and EMTs who rushed toward fire and fury without regard to their own life.
“It is a special person who’ll run toward danger while others flee for safety,” Puett said. “I always struggle to find the most fitting words to remember and honor the unimaginable sacrifice made by over 3,000 people who were killed.”
Corbin Wolf, a junior from Benton High School said despite his age, he gained a perspective not many people have about 9/11. He and his class removed a lot of their gear to complete all 110 trips, a luxury New York responders didn’t have.
“I had to take off my coat and my helmet because it was so hot,” Wolf said. “They kept that stuff on and pushed through.”
The 139th Airlift Wing, based out of Rosecrans Memorial Airport, also hasn’t forgotten. The unit posted a photo of airmen in formation for a 9/11 remembrance ceremony on its Facebook page.
One thing is clear, nothing seems to bring generations together quite like remembering 9/11, whether people are old enough to remember or not.