More than 1,200 Locust Valley Middle and High School students gathered Monday morning to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The view from the bleachers where they all sat included the words “Never Forget” and “9-11” spelled out in American flags.

In a moving ceremony, students listened as their classmates read poems, shared their memories of the fateful day ten years ago, and honored the United States of America. In addition to Locust Valley’s own students, several honored guests attended, sharing inspirational words and stories of personal loss related to the terrorist attacks.

Organized by Social Studies Curriculum Leader David Ethe, honored guests included the Locust Valley and Bayville American Legion Color Guards, Town of Oyster Bay Leader David Gugerty, and Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman Beth Faughan. High School Principal Dr. Kieran McGuire and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Anna F. Hunderfund also spoke at the ceremony.

Marc Taddonio and Laura Baierwalter each lost a loved one on 9/11 and joined the commemorative service in honor of those family members. Mr. Taddonio, a Locust Valley High School graduate, shared his memories of realizing that his brother was working in one of the towers as it went down.

Rather than focusing on the sadness of the event, Mr. Taddonio told of the beautiful and generous people who came to his side during and long beyond his mourning. Among his supporters were bus drivers who collected food, friends from high school who drove across the country since planes were not yet flying, and neighbors who delivered dinner to his home every day for months. He encouraged the students of Locust Valley to honor the memory of those lost by doing for others and by appreciating the kindness of those around them. In conclusion, he asked that each of them take a moment to acknowledge those in the armed forces whenever they see them. “Thank them for keeping our country safe,” he said.

Laura Doukas, Cassandra Vnook, Sophia Ronzetti, Karina Wrona, Wayne Farell, and Reed Rudowsky were all student speakers, and Catherine Boutros sang a beautiful rendition of “God Bless America.”  Kenneth Syrett spoke of being in second grade in 2001 and remembering very clearly that his father, a NYC firefighter, was safe. To this day, Matt said, he worries when his father goes to work, and calls him often to say good night, good morning, or just hello.