Ashley M. McNitt, 18, didnt understand why the television kept showing the World Trade Center burning to the ground 12 years ago.
Although she and other Jefferson Community College students were too young at the time to understand the impact of the terrorist attacks, they still paused at JCCs 9/11 remembrance ceremony Wednesday to remember the devastation and loss of life that day in 2001.
The ceremony kicked off with Nellys Echo, a former contestant on the NBC hit show The Voice, performing the national anthem under the blazing sun. Some students and faculty members bowed their heads after the anthem to show their respect.
I was in the first grade, said Miss McNitt, Sandy Creek. I think I was learning math at the time. I had no idea. I didnt really understand.
She said it is an important moment for which to pause, however.
Now I understand, especially being a firefighter, she said. I understand risking your life.
During a short speech commemorating the anniversary of 9/11, Cynthia A. Shelmidine, the colleges Public Safety Department chairwoman, remarked that although todays students were too young to understand the chaos 12 years ago, they should remember those who lost their lives. Under the American flag flying at half-staff, she talked about her fellow staff members personal memories and the importance of remembrance.
Our memory today is a pause, Ms. Shelmidine said. We pause, yet we continue on, because that is what we do as Americans.
Earlier that day, the campus Veterans Club lined the road leading into campus with hundreds of miniature flags as another reminder to remember the terrorist attack and the thousands of lives lost.
Another student and firefighter, 19-year-old Connor L. Berrus, echoed many of Miss McNitts remarks.
I serve my fire department at Copenhagen, he said. This is about honoring the military, the firefighters and police who put in the effort to keep our country safe.
As an older student, 22-year-old Annastasia J. Farrell remembered more than most at the ceremony. The Iraq veteran recalled waking up to the sound of her mother screaming as the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center.
By the time she reached the living room, images of the second plane hitting the towers were playing on television.
I was shocked, said Mrs. Farrell, Fort Drum. 9/11 was a big reason I joined the military. Im feeling a lot of emotions. Im also remembering my brothers and sisters in arms who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day.