Members of Seneca Valley's JROTC unit on Friday morning led a memorial ceremony honoring the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Cadets stood at attention as members of the group lowered the American flag to half-staff and gave a memorial speech.
The memorial was livestreamed into the school buildings to avoid crowding or disrupting campus, but some teachers were able to take their classes outside. Students were given the chance to watch, and the district observed a moment of silence.
Command Sgt. Major Nathaniel Nuzzo and Battalion Commander Emma Stitzenberg, both senior students at Seneca Valley, led the ceremony.
“We're happy to do this,” Nuzzo said. “I believe it's our job as Americans to never forget moments like these that are so tragic. We should definitely hold ceremonies for this to never forget.”
Logan Randall, a 10th grade student who is a part of Seneca Valley's JROTC program, played taps on a bugle as part of the memorial.
“We do parades all the time, and we have ceremonies all the time,” Randall said. “We believe it's our duty as citizens of the United States to honor everything that's happened, and it's our duty to not forget.”
After the ceremony, Kolton Sittig, a 2018 Seneca Valley graduate who serves in the Air Force as a C-17 loadmaster, presented the group with a flag that he flew on deployment, including in combat zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
“I brought this here to present to you guys because JROTC was a really good stepping-off point for the start of my career,” Sittig said. “For any of you that want to join, this is a great start to any career you might want to do in the military.”
Grew larger as event
The group has been in charge of the memorial ceremony for the past five years. First Sergeant Angelo Lettiere, army instructor for the Seneca JROTC program, said that the ceremony had humble beginnings, but grew larger as an event over time.
“It started off real small, but it gradually grew to what it is now,” he said. “It's something that we don't want to forget. This is very important for a lot of us.”
Lettiere said the ceremony provides students with some perspective.
“(The ceremony) teaches a little bit of history, and keeps them in touch because believe it or not, everyone in the class was not born yet,” Lettiere said. “Whenever we do something like this, it brings it home where the things that are happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and all over the world all started from, and why the United States was involved in them.”
For many JROTC students, participating in the memorial is a great honor, and Lettiere said he tries to keep the responsibility for leading the ceremony to the upper chain of command in the group.
“There's pride when they're actually a part of the ceremony,” he said.