Schools around the Linden Public Schools district took time out with moments of silence and special commemorations to remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
At Linden High School, the NJROTC unit held special flag-raising ceremonies at the start of the school day in front of the main building as well as the Academy building. Flags flew at half-staff in honor of those who were killed.
Elementary school students dressed in red, white and blue for “Patriots Day,” and sang songs and read poems to honor the heroes and remember the victims of 9/11. Members of the Linden Police Department and Linden Fire Department took part in festivities at School No. 2. Schools throughout the district had moments of silence throughout the morning to mark significant times.
The LHS Peer Pals group held its annual teleconference with partner school Allen High School of Allen, TX. That bond started shortly after 9/11 when students and staff reached out to Linden out of a desire to offer support to a school district near New York City.
This year, students and guests gathered in the LHS Learning Commons, facing a big screen where they could see and hear students and staff in Allen.
“We were called on that day 18 years ago to never forget,” Principal Yelena Horré said during the ceremony. “But we must also choose to remember something else that come of that day. I remember in the days following 9/11 the way our nation came together. Following 9/11, our groups came together and we have formed a bond and a partnership that has lasted these 18 years. That’s also important to remember.”
The special guest speaker for the ceremony was William Degnan, an LHS business teacher who was a Wall Street trader in Lower Manhattan on 9/11. He said that after 9/11, he did not want to go back to New York, which was what led him to go into teaching.
He highlighted an issue that is still relevant today: the 9/11-related illnesses that continue to take lives.
“People are still dying from the toxic dust,” he said. “I worked next to a scientist and he brought in masks for me and for him. He said, ‘Wear this mask because this air is not good.’ That might have helped me to this day, that I was down there with a mask on.”
He said his company lost seven brokers, including a good friend who he went to school with, as well as a cousin who worked in the World Trade Center and whose remains were never found.
“They’re still working on that to try to bring some closure the families of those who are missing,” he said. “So we’re still hoping for my cousin.”
He said he still can’t go back to New York.
“I’m not afraid,” he said, “it just doesn’t bring back good memories.”
He has spoken at the teleconference in the past and he said it has helped him heal.
“Your good deed is done for the day,” he told the gathering. “You’ve helped me, and you’ve helped others.”