9/11 ceremony: ‘We still remember’
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org September 11, 2013 11:06AM
Updated: October 15, 2013 6:37AM
About 150 teenagers, some of whom hope to one day serve their country in the Armed Forces, participated early Wednesday in a brief yet moving ceremony in Palos Heights recalling the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The teens in Shepard High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC program were joined by about 50 other students and some teachers who watched in silence as an American flag was raised to half-mast on a pole near the south end zone of the school’s football field.
It was their way to respectfully remember those who died 12 years ago Wednesday in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our country, said Lt. Col. Sabrina Joloy, of Alsip.
Joloy, 17, a senior, is commander of the Junior ROTC program at Shepard. She was 5 years old when the planes hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, with another crashing in a field in Pennsylvania.
“I don’t remember it,” she said of that dark day, “but my parents have told me stories about it. I can’t count how many times my mom had me read articles about it.”
Reading those stories can be “depressing,” she said. But, at the same time, 9/11 accomplished something else, something the architects of the attacks may not have anticipated, she said.
“I think it’s something that made our country stronger. It made us come together as a country because we were all feeling the same emotions,” Joloy said.
As was likely the case nationwide, the mood was somber Wednesday at Shepard, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave.
Three 16-year-olds in the program, Capt. Tyler Timmer, of Worth; Master Sgt. Susanna Gutierrez, of Alsip; and Capt. Ashley Burgoine, of Alsip, were in charge of bringing the flag to the pole and raising it to half-mast in memory of those killed in the attacks.
“To me, I feel more confident in America now,” said Burgoine, who wants to serve in the Navy.
Timmer, who wants to join the Army, said he hopes the many 9/11 memorials held across the nation will serve as a reminder “that history usually does repeat itself.”
Gutierrez, who wants to be in the Air Force, enjoys being part of the Junior ROTC program at Shepard.
“I love it. I like the sense of family we have going on. And I like how they depend on us more as cadets,” she said.
She also thinks America is safer than it was in 2001.
“But I feel we can improve, maybe with better communication,” she said.
After the trio raised the flag, they stood at attention while other cadets saluted.
“I was thinking of the people who passed away. This is for them to look down on us and (know that) we still remember. They are not alone,” said Burgoine, who carried the flag to the pole.
Shepard Junior ROTC Chief Bill Foster said he thought the cadets “did an outstanding job” Wednesday. He hopes to have a larger event next year at the high school for the 13th anniversary.