Students at a St. Leonard school marked the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City with a ceremony Wednesday morning.
Several Grade 5 and 6 students at Honoré Mercier Elementary School who attended the ceremony only learned about the horrors of 9/11 a few days before the event.
“Today my mom told me more about it,” said Alessia Biunno.
Others, like Aldo Masella, had heard the stories and sought out more information.
“I started reading lots of books, documentaries, old newspapers from 9/11. It scarred me for life. I wasn’t born in 2001, never seen it, but it still scarred me. A lot,” said Masella.
The moment was, however, an opportunity to learn together.
“I personally got really freaked out because I didn’t want anything to happen here,” said Liana Spiratos.
“Seeing everybody losing people in their family, it just scared me and broke my heart because I felt for them. It wasn’t right.”
Vince Lacroce, a spiritual community adviser at the school, said this event gives students an opportunity to learn that we can do and be better. “The actions of few don’t represent the many,” Lacroce said.
“I hope that a lot of them understand that.”
Frank Caracciolo, a teacher in New York on that tragic day who now works for the English Montreal school board, also attended the ceremony.
“Eighteen years later, what stands out most is how the people came together to help each other,” Caracciolo said. “I guess I need to remember that part. It’s what I like to talk about mostly.”
Students also remembered those who rushed to the scene and the conditions they faced. They had a chance to speak via Skype to Bill Spade, a firefighter. Spade and his 11 colleagues responded to the North Tower following the attacks. While Spade managed to escape, his fellow firefighters died when the towers collapsed.
After listening to the painful memories, it’s not the fear or the death or even the magnitude of the destruction that stood out most for some.
“That was a lot of bravery,” reacted Biunno.
Students and staff also wrote messages and drawings representing peace that will later be mailed to the United Nations and fire departments in New York City as well as fire departments in Montreal.
WATCH: New York City ferries move en masse in 9/11 commemoration ceremony