For every current Saint Cloud High student, a world without the September 11th attacks as never existed. We have only known a world with a War on Terror—and the fear of terror alongside it. We have only known a world where air travel is a long, drawn out process involving the TSA. For us it is hard to imagine anything else, nonetheless imagine the anguish the Americans who remember that day experienced.
Many stories of 9/11 follow the same pattern. It was a normal day with scheduled meetings, school, or planned celebrations even that was brought to a screeching halt once the gravity of the situation was realized. The whole country, for the first time in that way, stopped and united together against something we all could identify as evil. And this is not even to mention those at Ground Zero or their families. The trauma and heartache they must have experienced is something none of us will ever understand.
With all this in mind, Saint Cloud High's Army JROTC battalion deemed it fitting to reflect on such a pivotal moment in our nation's history. On Friday, September 10, 2021, one day before the twentieth anniversary of the attacks, the courtyard, usually bustling with students during lunchtime, went still and quiet. With everyone gathered around, brigades of cadets solemnly marched around the flagpole which, at this point, had its flag lowered by another set of cadets.
All attention was now pointed at the American flag ready to be raised when Colonel Thomas Donnelly, JROTC instructor, began talking about the great significance the anniversary held and great importance of instances of remembrance like this one. It was a needed reminder given, as stated earlier, the only people on campus who have memory of the event are faculty and staff.
After the speech, cadets raised the American flag to full staff before resting it at half staff—a sign of America's resilience but also one of an everlasting sorrow. The battalion responded with a salute, the ultimate sign of honor and respect. Members of Saint Cloud High's choir followed this up with patriotic songs, including a solo by Cadet First Lieutenant Madeline P. Despite having little to no connection to that fateful day, the passion they displayed in their voices would not lead one to this conclusion.
By the conclusion of the ceremony, a palatable change in the atmosphere in the courtyard could be sensed even as the area slowly returned to its usual level of liveliness. This sense, even among those who could easily disregard the day as a relic of the past, truly is an encouraging sign that we will never forget.