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Remembering 9/11: Menlo students plant 1,000 flags

 

When Charlotte Acra and Bella Stuart, two 15-year-old sophomores at Menlo School, think of 9-11, they can't recall what they were doing when they learned the news of what had happened.

They have no memory of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because they hadn't been born yet.

But that hasn't stopped them from launching a campaign to get their peers to remember, or at least reflect upon, September 11 and its significance.

The two students were inspired by the flags that fire stations in the area plant in the ground in remembrance of 9-11.

They asked around and learned that Gunn High School in Palo Alto has a tradition of planting flags around its campus in recognition of the anniversary. Gunn donated 1,000 flags to Charlotte and Bella, who also enlisted Alex Herrod and one of their brothers, Alexander, to help with the planting.

The students said planting the flags was intended to inspire unity, particularly at a time when hurricanes Harvey and Irma have caused so much destruction in the U.S.

"We can learn from what happened at 9/11," Charlotte said. "Hopefully our generation will be the one to show unity."

Their action led to the school taking a moment of silence to think about the victims of the attacks.

In planting the flags, Bella said it was humbling, because while the work wasn't particularly arduous, there were a lot of flags to be placed, even though the total number of flags they placed represented only one-third of the victims. An estimated 2,996 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Charlotte said that the experience helped give her perspective beyond the classroom. She noted that when a classmate had complained about an essay assignment, it made her think that for the friends and family of nearly 3,000 people, "this is the worst day of their lives. We should not be complaining about our Silicon Valley problems."

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