On the morning of Tuesday, September 12, Shepard High School JROTC students and countless staff members met on the school’s football field, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., Palos Heights, to honor all of the fallen heroes from the September 11 tragedy. (Photos by Kelly White)

On the morning of Tuesday, September 12, Shepard High School JROTC students and countless staff members met on the school’s football field, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., Palos Heights, to honor all of the fallen heroes from the September 11 tragedy. (Photos by Kelly White)

Shepard High School honors the victims of September 11 

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As the names of the victims were read, JROTC members walk a memorial walk of 56 laps on the recently renovated track in the football stadium around the school’s track field. 

By Kelly White 

Monday’s rain postponed Shepard High School’s 9/11 Remembrance; however, it did not make it any less meaningful. 

On the morning of Tuesday, September 12, the high school’s JROTC students and countless staff members met on the school’s football field, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., Palos Heights, to honor all of the fallen heroes from the September 11 tragedy 22 years ago. 

“I like that the whole cadet corps comes together to honor the anniversary of September 11,” Colin Blanks, 17, of Worth, said. “This event is important to me because it honors the men, women and children who died that day.”  

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JROTC members read the names of the terror attack victims while students walk the Shepard High School track.  

“We are grateful that our school leaders provide this opportunity for us to do this each year.  Major Dan Johnson, Shepard JROTC and Senior Aerospace Science Instructor, said. “I hear from so many staff members and parents who are really encouraged that we make a point to remember this day each year.”  

JROTC is a program offered to high schools that teaches students character education, student achievement, wellness, leadership and diversity. Shepard has won a Distinguished Unit Award from USAF the past several years, and the remembrance exemplifies the spirit of service that runs through the school’s JROTC program. 

The students in the program work under the guidance of Johnson and Master Sergeant Chris Saberniak. 

The school has been honoring 9/11 for more than a decade, according to Shepard staff; however, JROTC has taken over the remembrance ceremony over the past years.  

The event gave both students and staff time to recognize and reflect on the day’s magnitude, Johnson said. 

The morning’s remembrance began with the National Anthem, and a flag ceremony, followed by JROTC members reading off all of the names of the 2,997 victims who tragically lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The list of nearly 3,000 names was obtained by the cadets through the website, 911memorial.org. 

“This personalizes the tragedy,” Johnson said. “It is easy to say about 3,000 people were killed that day, but when you listen to those names being read, you realize these were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of real people who did not come home that day.”  

As the names were read, JROTC members walked a memorial walk of 56 laps on the recently renovated track in the football stadium around the school’s track field. 

“This event provides an opportunity for cadets to connect with the reality of 9-11 in a way that impacts them,” Johnson said. “Hearing the names read, and taking time to process the events of the day can be a very powerful moment.” 

The passion behind the students to honor and reflect on the importance of the day is substantial given that the attacks occurred before any of today’s students were even born, school officials said. 

“The 9/11 walk and ceremony is special and holds a place in the hearts of many,” JROTC cadet, John Anthony Alvarado, 18, of Worth, said. “This event is to remind us that those who were lost will never be forgotten and we will always remember those who were lost on that tragic day. I like the event because of the bonding between everyone and the understanding of the event. It’s calm and pleasant on the track the entire day. I enjoy the time I get to spend with everyone.”  

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On Tuesday morning, Shepard High School JROTC students and staff members met on the school’s football field to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001, tragedy. 

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