“Terror”, “fear”, “uncertainty”…words all across news headlines on September 11, 2001. The destruction of the World Trade Center and nearly 3,000 deaths made this day in US history one of the most tragic to date. The terrorist attacks drew the nation together to combat the difficult times, to mourn, and make a change. Nineteen years later, the solemn commemoration of lives lost is still a crucial part of American culture, especially at Providence Academy, where students and staff honor first responders in a unique and beautiful way. PA still held their yearly tribute, though with a little more distance than usual.

Grace Harrington helps Lions for Life to line the PA driveway with flags prior to the 9/11 remembrance ceremony.

Each year, Lions for Life, the PA pro-life club, helps with the remembrance of this day.  Lions for Life president Grace Wikenheiser ‘22 said, “Protecting the lives of the vulnerable in our community is something that I am very passionate about, and Lions for Life allows me to share this passion with others to make an even greater impact.”

Vice president Mary Rillens Lee ‘22 added, “[The work of Lions for Life] isn’t just about speaking out against abortion and euthanasia, but also honoring the beautiful gift of life.”

Students of this club and other volunteers within the PA community lined the driveway and property of the school with 2,977 flags, one for each of the lives lost in the tragedy.  Though Lee has been a PA student for three years, the number struck her this year as never before. 

Lee reflected, “As I put up the flags this year, it was truly a wake-up call to how many lives were lost”.

Lions for Life president Mary Rillens Lee ’22 in action as she helps to put flags in the ground for the 9/11 commemoration.

Many young students will probably experience a similar realization in their lifetime, as those who now participate in this tradition weren’t yet born on that fateful day. Rien Rose Lee ‘24 noted, “This is a great learning opportunity for the younger kids, as it is very important that they are aware of the tragic event, and all the lives that were lost.”

At 9:11 last Friday morning, all the students, staff, and faculty of Providence Academy congregated in the parking lot in memorial of the tragic day as police cars and firefighters paraded through.  Careful to place students further apart than usual, the service extended around the entire campus this year and gave students a few extra moments to reflect.

Kristin Welch ‘22 remarked, “I think it is so important that we take time to remember this day, and all the lives lost. It puts in perspective how lucky we truly are.”

Not only is this a day to remember all those who died during the terrorist attack, but a chance to honor front line workers who risk their lives daily to protect others.

“There is something moving about seeing all ages of students gather to show respect to the police and firefighters. It is important that we, the next generation, are showing our respect towards those serving courageously in the line of duty,” Rien Rose Lee observed.

Wikenheiser concluded with gratitude for those who gave their time and energy to honor the lives lost and those who continue to risk their lives defending our freedoms. “We would like to thank everyone who helped this year; you have no idea how much it means, what an impact you made.”

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