CEDAR GROVE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — They weren’t alive at the time of 9/11, but students at an Essex County high school have kept their vow to never forget ahead of Friday’s anniversary.

No matter rain or shine or global pandemic, every year at Cedar Grove High School, students meticulously place 2,977 flags in honor of the lives lost on September 11.

“When you place a flag in, you can see each, like, each name plaque, and it really attaches you to that person,” said senior Samantha Cunniff, in an interview with CBS2’s Christina Fan.

All the students here, including Cunniff, were born in a post-9/11 world. They don’t share the painful and vivid memories we have of the attacks but know the day changed America forever. Seeing the vastness of this tribute helps them realize why.

“Sometimes I’m at a loss for words. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have almost 3,000 people die at one time. It’s crazy to think about, it’s really shocking,” said Cunniff.

RELATED STORY: 9/11 Tribute In Light Will Go On After Receiving Assistance From New York State

The project, called Cedar Grove Waves, started six years ago, when Board of Education Vice President David Schoner realized the magnitude of the tragedy was fading with each new generation.

“We made a promise to those people 19 years ago that we would not forget, we would not forget them. And the way we do that is by educating the people that were too young, the kids that were too young, about what happened,” said Schoner.

Sophomore Michael Willis is now part of that new generation, vowing to remember not just those who passed, but also the heroes who emerged.

“The first responders who ran into the smoke and ran into the fire and the collapsing buildings, risking their lives and losing their lives to save other people,” said Willis.

The display of flags… a symbol of these students revolve to keep history alive.

For this year’s ceremony, two trees will be planted to honor the lives of the two victims from Cedar Grove.

You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.

  1. John Farmer says:

    I spent three years watching them be built, And many years working in the WTC. My son called me when the first plane hit.

Leave a Reply