While many adults remember with vivid clarity precisely where they were and what they were doing when the news broke that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York City on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the oldest current students attending Valley Central High School (VCHS) were, at most, one or two years old.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation knows that the younger generation does not have a personal memory of the event, and is determined to ensure that Sept. 11 never fades into obscurity. Created in memory of FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller, who perished in the attacks, the foundation has established numerous initiatives and programs to benefit firefighters, first responders, military personnel and their families, and to spread awareness of the sacrifices that so many people made on that day.
One such program is the 9/11 Never Forget Memorial Exhibit, a 53-foot tractor-trailer, which unfolds into a 1,100 square foot exhibit presenting artifacts, including actual steel beams from the towers, documentary video, recordings of first-responder radio transmissions, as well as guided tours by FDNY firefighters. The exhibit travels throughout the country, never charging an admission fee, and on Sept. 26 and 27, it was parked behind Valley Central High School.
Middle and high school students wandered around the exhibit, watching news footage, asking questions of the local FDNY firefighters who volunteered to guide tours, and peering at the many artifacts in the exhibit’s collection. After the school day ended, the public was invited to tour the exhibit.
“Sept. 11 really was the end of innocence,” VCHS Principal Jayme Ginda-Baxter said. “It’s important that students are able to realize the connection between 9/11 and current world events. This exhibit is a piece of live history; you can’t get any more impactful than that. We’re grateful to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation for the opportunity.”
“It’s important to learn about Sept. 11 because it’s important to remember the people who died trying to save other people,” Valley Central Middle School sixth-grade student Adrian Lindsay, who visited the exhibit with his social studies class, said. “Honestly, I’m never going to forget this.”
To watch a news report from HVNN on the exhibit, click here