Porterville Military Academy had an hour-long memorial commemorating 9/11 led by Commandant of Cadets, Dave Archer, who served in the U.S. Army for 10 years, and had just entered the National Guard when the 9/11 attacks occurred. He ended up serving in Iraq for two years before retiring after 23 years of service.

Before the ceremony Taps was played on the trumpet by Cadet Corporal Darich Curran, Cadet Cameron Kehl and Band Director Norm Campbell.

Kehl is 12-years-old, and learned to play taps in one evening before the memorial ceremony. His older brother Christian, is in the Navy and is stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Cameron looks up to him.

All of the PMA students (cadets) watched a video that showed the attacks happening and the impacts of the aircrafts, both at the Twin Towers in New York City, and at the Pentagon in Virginia, and how they were described in the video montage “as a new day in infamy.”

Archer explained how he felt it was important to remember the events, but that can only be done by putting things into perspective.  All cadets in the room wouldn’t be born until at least five to eight years after the attacks, and it was important they understand that the lives lost didn’t end with the attacks, that it continues today with the wars and conflicts that are currently happening around the world.

After the video Archer shared statistics and information about the national tragedy, which was a day that changed the world for many people. 

Archer spoke about how 9/11 changes lives forever. He showed a video that vividly captured the events of the attacks, followed with the statics of lives lost not only during the attack, but the subsequent wars to include US service members, contract employees, allies and civilians.  Giving more perspective he equated the numbers lost with the numbers of students in schools and the total populations of the surrounding towns. They were asked to imagine that in a matter of hours entire local towns and schools would cease to exist.


There were 2,997 victims on 9/11, and for a whole generation, almost 20 years, the U.S. has been at war, 18 years in Afghanistan, and other parts of the middle east. And over 50,000 people have lost their lives in combat.


Norm Campbell, the Band Director, spoke about about how the events unfolded for him on 9/11. He explained how close to home it it came for him, with a personal friend, who was a pilot who had flown that very flight in the past. It could have been him. And he and his family saw the attacks on the tv and it was devastating for their families. Campbell said with emotion, “It was unbelievable.”

Archer concluded the ceremony by asking the cadets to truly consider the academy’s mission of creating 21st Century leaders who will become agents of change in business, politics and public service and that they understand their role, to be the leaders with the communication skills to either prevent a tragic event or keep the event from spilling over.  He explained that they truly will be the stewards of the world they inherent and people will look to them for their leadership. “It is our mission to develop 21th century leaders to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”

Other schools who held 9/11 ceremonies include Harmony Magnet Academy, Butterfield Charter School and Burton School District.

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