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Alexandria City High School JROTC Members Honor 9/11 Victims With Military Memorial Ceremony on School Grounds

ACHS JROTC outside campus saluting in front of a fire truck for a 9/11 ceremony
The ACHS JROTC led a 9/11 memorial ceremony on Sep. 9, 2022. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)


ALEXANDRIA, VA–On Friday, September 9, 2022 the Alexandria City High School (ACHS) JROTC hosted a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the front of the King Street campus. The ceremony began with the reading of a letter from Coach Joe Pisciotta, former T.C. Williams history teacher and 9/11 photographer. Pisciotta also co-founded the Still Standing, Still Free 9/11 photography exhibit, which was on display last year at the Fashion Center at Pentagon City. To learn more about this exhibit click here.

Pisciotta unfortunately could not be in attendance; scroll down for his full remarks.

Following the coach’s remarks was a dedication of one of Pisciotta‘s photographs from the Pentagon 9/11 scene to the JROTC.

an image of first responders to the pentagon on 9/11/2001
The 30 first responders to the Pentagon on 9/11/2001. (Photo Joe Pisciotta)

Also, in attendance, were members of the Alexandria Fire Department, a department which, in 2001, was an integral part of the first responder wave to the attack on the Pentagon.

Members of the Alexandria Fire Department Engine Co. 203 (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
Members of the Alexandria Fire Department Engine Co. 203 stand behind the ACHS JROTC (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
Members of the Alexandria Fire Department Engine Co. 203 (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
Members of the Alexandria Fire Department Engine Co. 203 (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

While all of the ACHS JROTC members were born post 9/11, they understand the gravity of these ceremonies and the importance of carrying on the history of that day and the memory of those lives lost.

Anais Dellarïa, Battalion Executive Officer for ACHS JROTC, was born Sept. 8. 2005, years after 9/11. As a member of the next generation, she still recognizes the importance of carrying on these memories. “I think memories for me personally are a big deal,” she asserts. “I’ve been involved in a lot of 9/11 ceremonies before… I just think it is a wonderful thing to think back and relate and realize what people have done for our country and realize how quickly communities can come together for the greater good.”

an Alexandria City High School ROTC member holds a framed photo of a 9/11 scene in front of an Alexandria Fire engine
Battalion Executive Officer Anais Dellarïa gives presentation at 9/11 remembrance ceremony. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

The ceremony concluded with the hoisting of the colors to half-mast outside the school, a salute, and a moment of silence for all those lost.

Flags outside ACHS being hoisted half mast for 9/11 (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
Flags outside ACHS being hoisted to half mast for 9/11 (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
ACHS JROTC salute in honor of the 9/11 victims. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)
ACHS JROTC salute in honor of the 9/11 victims. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

As this Sunday marks 21 years since the attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it becomes increasingly important to unite as a nation, carry on those stories, and remember that day.

[SEE ALSO: Never Forget, 20th Anniversary of 9/11]

The ACHS JROTC in formation in front of the stadium Titans sign
(Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Coach Joe Pisciotta’s full ceremony remarks: 

Good morning and welcome to all in attendance.  I am sorry that I can’t be with you in person today but thank you for giving me this opportunity to say a few words. I will try to be brief.

I would first like to recognize the Alexandria City Public High School Junior ROTC program and its leadership for being one of the top programs in Virginia if not the Nation. A year ago, they were selected to be the color guard for the  opening ceremony of the “Still Standing-Still Free” a historic photographic exhibit on the 20th Anniversary of the 9-11 Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon.

The mission of the exhibit was to remind and to educate all people, of all ages, to “Never Forget” the horrific, unprecedented surprise attack on our Nation. It was also to commemorate the immediate response by local fire and rescue first responders, as well as, to welcome home our men and women in military service returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sept. 11, 2001, was “one day” in the life of America that led to Twenty Years of War to bring justice, and to protect our nation from further homeland attacks. It was a day that changed the lives of our nation and of the world forever. As a historian it is those twenty years of lessons that need to be remembered and taught, and “never forgotten,” not just that one day. You will see repeatedly on TV, videos as reminders of each horrific attack, the devastation, the human loss and of heroes.  As a teacher, as a student, as a citizen, the lessons are in the study of the causes and effects of the United States longest war

JROTC is an important grass roots program with many benefits to the individual that participants and to our nation. Let me share a personal story that I am proud to relay to you. The day after the attack on the Pentagon I took my 7-year-old son down to see the Pentagon’s smoldering destruction. Near-by, an instant memorial tree was decorated with American flags, plastic models of a B-52 bomber, a F15C, a F16 Thunderbird, a F18 Blue Angel, a USMC Harrier and even a Space Suttle. The base of the tree was circled with American flags. I took a picture of my son in front of the decorated tree and named the photograph, “Justice is Coming.”

 My son made a commitment at that moment to serve his country. After graduating from Jeb Stuart High School, what is ironically now called, Justice High School, he went on to Penn. State Univ. on an U.S. Air Force ROTC mechanical engineering scholarship program and is now a Captain in the Air Force serving as an intelligence and acquisition officer.

We are at a critical time in our nation when we need to focus on things greater than ourselves. Serving in the military or serving as a civilian or serving in your community is a sacrifice to do good and to help people at all levels in life. The JROTC Program gives each of you the building stones for the foundation of values, self-discipline, and leadership for which to help create a better community and a better nation.  Take pride in what you do.  Respect yourself and others.

Thank you and God Bless America

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