In remembrance of 9/11

A Flag of Honor is displayed in the front office as homage to those who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001.

September 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the tragedy following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that took the lives of nearly 3,000 victims. The day pays tribute to the victims, the survivors, the families dealing with loss, as well as others who were affected by the event. 

The Hoofprint interviewed teachers and staff on campus about their recollections of 9/11. 

Lisa Donee, English teacher

“I was at home and I was listening to the radio. And then I turned on the TV. And I knew our world would never be the same. My first thought was, how do I teach today? Because everybody was so affected by this and in shock. I just wanted to address the situation with the limited knowledge I had, in the best way possible. This was during the time that we had TVs in our classroom. We watched TV in the morning, and Dr. Ken Gunn, the principal, addressed us and gave us permission to grieve. And that was really important. But I was as speechless as [the students] were. Everybody was just kind of speechless.”

Brett Landis, Social Science teacher

“Do I remember that day? I do. On account of it, I remember distinctly that my students watched what was happening on television. I know the TV cameras really did not capture just how terrible it all was. Though people did not know how many people actually perished, everybody knew people died when those towers fell down. I will tell you this and no doubt if you talk to somebody who remembers that day: how quiet the skies were for the next week. The skies were silent. There was no airplane in the sky. The other thing that I thought was so moving about that time was how unified our country was. We were unified in a way that we’ve probably had not been since the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the unity the country must have felt when President Kennedy was shot. Everybody was sort of hurting, because we all felt affected by it. And we all wanted to do something.”

Jennifer Maletz, English teacher

I was at my parents’ house getting ready to go to work. My mom came bursting in and told me what she had seen on television. Initially I thought she was nuts and was watching HBO and didn’t know what she had seen. She came back running back in, telling me the plane had hit the second building. I came out and saw it for myself. It was pretty overwhelming. My family is from New York. My grandma lives in Manhattan. She just recently moved to Florida so at the time she was still living there. My aunt worked in Manhattan as well, and I had cousins on both sides of my family—one of whom worked at the restaurant at the top. She was one of the heads of catering and she lost a lot of people. She just happened to be at the UN building that day. We were just lucky. Initially, there was just shock and it just did not feel real. To see this happening was shocking, and our next immediate response was to contact family members and try to make sure everyone we knew and loved was safe. It took in some cases several days for some of my cousins to know for sure which was pretty scary. We were really, really blessed that we didn’t lose anybody directly.”

Nick Madrid, Social Science teacher

“I was clueless what had happened. It was college. Because it was early in the morning, the class was like seven o’clock. I just got up, went to school, and I completely did not know what’s going on. So I showed up and everyone’s freaking out, and I was trying to figure out what was going on the whole day. I remember being scared, and it wasn’t until in the afternoon that it kind of figured out what was going on at that point. I was just shocked and then sad that people lost their lives.”

Ryan Maine, Principal 

“I was a freshman in college. We had a 7:30 a.m. class, when my roommate knocked on the door saying that there was a guy who flew a plane into a building. We thought it was an accident. I was in Sacramento State at the time, and the state Capitol shut down. The whole thing was just eerie—they shut down every public building. We had a football game, and that got cancelled. The biggest moment was when you could see people jumping over and realizing that people were burning inside the building; I couldn’t imagine being in their shoes. The whole thing just reminded me of the fragility of life and how we take life for granted.”

Members of the American Armed Forces Club and National Honor Society, along with other volunteers, used miniature American flags to set up a display on the front lawn of the school in honor of 9/11.

In homage to the lives that were lost during 9/11, the American Armed Forces Club (AFA) along with National Honor Society (NHS) continued the tradition of creating the 9/11 Flag Display in front of Walnut High School Friday, Sept. 10. The tradition was first started by political clubs on campus known as the Teen Republicans and the Young Democrats in 2011 to honor the 9/11 victims. The flags are arranged in a manner so that they form the numbers 9, 1 and 1 respectively, as well as a star with a pentagon in the middle (in honor of the lives lost amid the terrorist attack on the Pentagon). Approximately 3,000 flags are used to commemorate each life that was lost in the tragedy.

“9/11 means a lot to me: some of my family members were a part of the event. It’s a day to remember the lives that were lost,” AFA President sophomore Isabel Olegario said. “I think 9/11 was really hard on my family. Growing up, I didn’t really know how to explain it because I was still a kid. But then growing up, my family told me more stories about them. I think it was really hard on me when I got to know more about them.”

Compiled by Andrew Kim, Jason Wu, and Philbert Loekman
Photos by Andrew Kim