Locals gather to commemorate Patriot Day

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San Benito High School's Associated Student Body and members of Hollister FFA were part of a 9/11 commemoration that took place in front of the Veterans' Memorial Building in downtown Hollister on Sept. 11, 2020. (contributed)

The Hollister Veterans of Foreign Wars partnered with San Benito High School and the Hollister Future Farmers of America for a 9/11 tribute in front of the Veterans’ Memorial Building in downtown Hollister.

The American flag on Sept. 11 stood at half-mast in honor of Patriot Day as members of the high school’s associate student body along with local first responder agencies stood in the courtyard to honor those who died as a result of the terrorist attacks in 2001. 

The Hollister FFA placed 2,997 flags to represent the number of people who died that day 19 years ago.

The ceremony began at 8:40 am starting with the singing of the national anthem by Jenny Abrizu, followed by three rifle volleys fired by the VFW and finally a performance of “Taps” played by Eric Spandri.

Arbizu said she was asked by Maria Spandri, a member of the VFW post 9242, to sing the national anthem, which she’s done with them for more than three years. 

“Singing the national anthem on any day that honors American history is always the biggest honor of mine,” she said. “It is the least I can do to share my love for this country, and for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for this country.”

The ceremony usually takes place at San Benito High School but the campus is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year’s ceremony took place in downtown Hollister  with help from Hollister Future Farmers of America. 

The student body association built a replica of the “Twin Towers” and a poster that read “SBHS Remembers 9/11.” 

Spandri told the Free Lance that she didn’t want to publicize the event because she didn’t want the mass of people to show up and possibly get in trouble. However, she did invite all of the first responders in town.

Arbizu said the turnout was small but she mentioned that this year’s ceremony felt it was specifically geared for the first responders. 

“And I really do think that in today’s world, they probably needed it,” she said. “I am normally able to remove my emotions from the playing of Taps, mainly because I am in front and am still part of the ceremony. But today tears came to my eyes; it is a personal day for everyone. 

“I think anyone who is old enough to remember, can recall the fear of the happenings of that day. And in some shape or form, we were all affected.”

San Benito High’s ASB Commissioners of Culture and Climate are inviting the community to participate tonight in a Patriot Day 9/11 Ceremony Webinar on Zoom from 6 to 7:30 pm. The webinar ID is 899 5158 1116 and the password is 579464.

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