America's youth place premium on never forgetting 9/11

September 11, 2013 

While many Americans worry that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our country will soon succumb to history's dust bin, a fading memory bound to be forgotten one day, some of today's youth show a determination to prevent that loss.

Two Manatee County teenagers stand out. Madison Miele and Katey Clendenon, both struck by the monumental destruction and loss of life that dark day in 2001, are dedicated to the task of remembrance. The two high school sophomores at Providence Community School became acquainted with the attack on America from their parents as young children.

Today, both are involved in the Young America's Foundation and devoted to the organization's 9/11: Never Forget Project -- spurring their school to action this year. Madison, Katey and their classmates planted 2,977 American flags on the school's campus in honor and memory of each person who perished in the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

The flags will become Madison and Katey's legacy to the school as well. The memorial will return annually to the school's front lawn, at 5512 26th St. W.

"We really wanted to show respect to everyone who died, and all the firemen and everybody who served, and their family and loved ones," Katey told Herald editor Terry O'Connor in a Monday article.

"We got approval from the school to do what we wanted and to make it as big as we could," Madison remarked.

And indeed they did make it big -- not only with a mammoth flag memorial but with a moment of silence, a prayer and a special guest speaker in ceremonies held Tuesday (only because Wednesday is a home-school day for students).

Plus, the event attracted representatives of the Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue, Manatee West Fire District, the Manatee Sheriff's Office and the Bradenton Police Department as well as members of the armed forces.

That's quite a large gathering for two 15-year-olds to arrange. "The girls are amazing," said Kathy Davies, the school's office and campus supervisor, noting they organized a fundraiser, collected money and enlisted classmates to join the effort.

Katey and Madison are to be commended for this tremendous project. Their parents, John and Hyejung Clendenon and Jonathan and Shelley Miele, must be very proud of their daughters.

A decade ago, Young America's Foundation was established with the mission to help students remember the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This year, more than 125 colleges and high schools joined the 9/11: Never Forget Project, and Providence Community School is listed as one on the foundation's website.

That bodes well for memorial ceremonies on campuses across the country for well into the future. And with Madison and Katey around as well, Americans can rest assured that future 9/11 remembrances are in good hands.

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