Mount Garfield Middle School student Laurna Lancaster does not remember where she was the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States, turning airplanes into weapons and killing thousands of people.
Laurna doesn't remember that terrible day because she hadn't been born yet. That doesn't stop tears from forming in her eyes when she talks about remembering the fallen and honoring those who serve.
Laurna recounted the events of 9/11 in front of hundreds of classmates Wednesday morning in a ceremony to mark the 18th anniversary.
Two planes crashing into the World Trade Center's north and south towers, killing hundreds instantly and trapping hundreds more. The third plane hitting the Pentagon. The fourth crashing into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as crew members and passengers fought back against the hijackers.
"That's when our country pulled together to put the pieces of our broken world back together," she said. "We could not have done it without the first responders and the people who serve our country."
Students across the Grand Valley commemorated 9/11 with music, poems and moments of silence. At Orchard Mesa Middle School, students handed out thank-you notes to veterans, first responders and family members they invited to the ceremony.
Mount Garfield had a small ceremony last year, said Principal Nikki Johnston, but student leaders wanted to expand it this year.
"I was blown away that they wanted to do it because it was eight years before they were even born," she said. "Most of them only get to hear about it in social studies class, but the fact that these kids really wanted to do something to honor people in our valley was pretty significant."
At Orchard Mesa, students learned about the history of 9/11 in advisory classes this week.
"We want students to understand how the day impacted the United States and how the country pulled together and became stronger," said Principal Susan Birdsey. "We need to make sure to teach them about it and that they understand why we have that assembly, why we get together on that day."
Western Colorado Community College students in the Peace Officer Standards and Training academy also commemorated 9/11 with music, laying a wreath and a moment of silence.
"It's important that we respect first responders because they put their lives on the line for us," Laurna said. "It's important to remember this day."