Most students at Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School are too young to remember the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., that took place on September 11, 2001.
The Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC) at the two schools took time out at the hour the planes first hit the World Trade Center in New York on the morning of September 11, 2015, to observe a moment of silence and to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died that morning 14 years ago.
At Proviso East, it was the first time for the school’s NJROTC in observing the moment as a unit. Commander Darryl Person, the senior naval science instructor at Proviso East, said that it was a moment of remembrance of the event, particularly because of its continuing impact on the United States.
"It’s important to keep this memory alive as it still impacts our country," said Commander Person, adding that many staff members at Proviso East served in the military in the days following the attacks. "It can be an issue to discuss in class. We can’t let it fade into history. We owe it to those families to remember what happened."
A similar remembrance occurred at Proviso West, whose NJROTC marked the events of that day. Pushed inside into the school’s gymnasium due to the weather, the students and staff member paused to reflect on the anniversary. Following a salute and ringing of the bell for victims, 30 balloons were released outside in the school courtyard, each balloon representing 10 people who were killed.
"It’s American history," said Chief Al Whitten, a junior naval science instructor at Proviso West. "We try to equate that like when we teach about Pearl Harbor. It’s a part of American history that we need to teach them.
Students at the events said that they feel affected by the attacks despite not knowing the full extent of what was happening when they occurred.
"I think it is important to remember September 11, 2001, because thousands of innocent people died due to terrorist wrong doing," said Makaylah McClinton, a Proviso East senior and commanding officer of the Proviso East NJROTC. "Patriotism was displayed on that day. I am humbled by those who served our country and community, they were willing to risk their lives for others on that terrifying day."
Zavier Donati, a Proviso West junior who is a member of the Proviso West NJROTC, said that he was told that he was camping with his family on the day of the attacks. He said that the takeaway from the remembrance ceremony was how it affected the entire country.
"It’s just the immensity of what happened, how many people lost their lives," he said.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that it was important that students remember events such as 9/11.
"They are growing up in a different world than the one that most of us grew up in, and we need to be sure they understand the history of what happened that day," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "Remembering this important event that occurred when most of the students were very young is a way for them to connect with those who remember and to show respect for those who lost their lives. My sincere thanks to the NJROTC units at both schools for sponsoring such a moving tribute."
For more photos from the September 11 remembrances, please click here
Additional reporting and photos contributed by Jonathan Dudley, a senior at Proviso East High School and the public affairs officer for the Proviso East NJROTC unit.