CONCORD — Cadets with the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Jay M. Robinson High School ensured the events of 9/11 and those who lost their lives in the attacks and after were remembered Friday as cadets ran the school track for the entire school day.
They opened the memorial at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 10 with the raising of the flag and then laid a wreath at the flag pole. After a moment of silence, the first cadet began to run with the flag, and the rest of the cadets ran in formation behind. Those who opted to walk went next.
Amoiree Faggart, a senior and member of AFJROTC, was one of the cadets excused from classes for the entire day to run around the track in honor of Sept. 11, 2001, a devastating event that took place about three years before Faggart was born.
But while he, fellow students and cadets have only read about or watched footage of the terror attacks, they wanted to honor those who lost their lives.
“With everything that is going on in the news and in Afghanistan right now, we felt like it would be a pretty good idea because it brings out the community and shows we support the community and still care and show that it is not just a regular day,” Faggart said.
This year marks not only the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks, but also the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan.
The idea for the memorial came from Shaw Air Force Base, where Master Sgt. Micki Kistler — JROTC aerospace science instructor — participated in the annual 9/11 memorial. On base, Kistler said, they would sign up in shifts to run the U.S. flag around base for 24 hours, and people could join in formation to run behind the flag during that time.
The AFJROTC cadets hold an annual flag ceremony for 9/11, but since this year is the 20th anniversary, they wanted to do something special.
When they heard what Kistler used to do on base, they liked the idea but had to make a few minor changes to fit school rules.
While they couldn’t run for 24 hours, they could run the entire school day. They planned to conclude the ceremony with the lowering of the flag and another moment of silence.
They also chose to have cadets read aloud the names of Air Force members who lost their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and other events that stemmed from the 9/11 terror attacks. They read one name every two minutes.
The AFJROTC cadets are also raising money for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, with the goal of $2,500.
For Faggart, the memorial was special as a cadet and as a volunteer with the Allen Volunteer Fire Department in Concord. Once he graduates in the spring, he will be a firefighter EMT.
His crew, including Volunteer Fire Chief Matthew Pethel, came out to the memorial to support Faggart.
Having them there made the meaning of the memorial tangible.
“Remembering those first responders that ran up in those buildings — they had no hesitation,” Faggart said.
Cadet and senior Conner Maloney explained how first responders and the armed forces are represented in the memorial.
“With the running of the flag, we felt like it would represent all the firefighters, first responders, as well as the military men and women who died after,” he said.
Remembering that day and keeping the tradition is something Seven Creamer, cadet and senior, said would soon be the responsibility of her generation.
She wants to make sure her generation knows the significance of what happened and will continue to remember 9/11.
“With time, things start to dissipate and slowly be forgotten. Today is the 10th and tomorrow is the 11th,” Creamer said. “We want to remember it while we can and have students come down to the field because I don’t want this day to be forgotten. I want people to continue remembering the days for people who went through so much trauma they can’t unsee it. I feel like it is important to keep these days alive.”
And while Creamer may just be 17, she said looking toward the future and setting the precedent now will indicate how it will be later.
“Our generation is the one that will have to keep future generations in remembrance,” Creamer said. “If we don’t do it, they won’t do it.”
To donate to the 9/11 Memorial museum fundraiser, go to https://gofund.me/1c6253e8.