One day before the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 terror attacks, students in Pennsbury High School’s JROTC program held a 9/11 remembrance ceremony.

Pennsbury Air Force JROTC cadets raise the American flag. Photo by Rick Rickman.

The ceremony opened with cadets raising the American flag and a performance of the National Anthem. Then several cadets spoke on what lessons they had taken from the attacks.

Cadet Jolene Sanders spoke first. She, like all the cadets and the dozens of students in attendance, was not alive 20 years ago.

“In one single moment, life may never be the same,” said Sanders. “As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today, and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love. Hug them a little tighter, and try to never take one second of you life for granted.”

After the initial speakers, cadets read off the times and events from that morning and a single bell to recognize each event. They started with the first plane hitting the north tower at 8:46 a.m. and ended with the collapse of the north tower at 10:28 a.m.

JROTC Cadet Commander Lieutenant Colonel Tom Cummings acted as guest speaker. The senior said he knows what he does about the day from documentaries, stories, and first hand accounts.

JROTC Cadet Commander Lieutenant Colonel Tom Cummings speaks Friday morning. Photo by Rick Rickman.

“While I feel a connection to the events of this day, I feel a disconnect as I was not even born at the time of the attacks.”

But Cummings explained the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan provides a “tangible connection” to the attacks. Fountains at the site have the names of victims etched into their sides.

“I recall my father finding the names of two people who he or family members knew personally,” said Cummings. “He recalled stories of these men. It is in retelling of these stories that we pay tribute to the fallen.”

The ceremony ended with the Honor Guard lowering the flag to half mast in memory of the victims of 9/11 while a trumpeter played Taps.

Major James MacEachern, who leads the Pennsbury High School Air Force JROTC program, organized the ceremony.