Mitchell High School held its annual observance on Friday, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil while honoring one of their own, a Mitchell alumna who was among the nearly 3,000 people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001.
The cadets of Mitchell’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps stood at attention and saluted the U.S. flag, which was raised to its full height before being lowered staff in honor of the thousands of victims of the 9/11 attacks, including 1975 Mitchell graduate Kathryn Yancey LaBorie, the lead flight attendant in the first-class section of United Airlines Flight 175. The hijacked aircraft, scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles, was the second plane to crash into the World Trade Center, shortly after 9 a.m.
Several members of LaBorie’s family were the guests of honor for the event, which Mitchell has held every year, except 2020, since the attacks took place. Firefighters from Colorado Springs Station 8, Colorado Springs police officers, leaders from Colorado Springs School District 11, and hundreds of Mitchell students and family members were also in attendance.
“As a nation, we must always keep in mind what happened on that fatal day and commemorate those who lost their lives,” said Cadet Miquah Aniasco in her address to the attendees. “In addition, we must always honor those men and women who continue to defend and protect our nation against future terrorist attacks.”
Led by Kathryn’s father, Gene Yancey, family members laid a ceremonial wreath and a moment of silence was held before the police department’s Honor Guard pierced the silence with a booming 21-gun salute.
A cadet blew “Taps” on his trumpet, and firefighters ran their lights and sirens in honor of the more than 400 police officers and firefighters who died responding on Sept. 11. In a final tribute to LaBorie and the thousands of 9/11 victims, ROTC members released red and purple balloons – Kathryn’s favorite colors – while playing her favorite song, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Many attendees shed tears as the music played and the balloons floated toward the sky.
In partnership with Ent Credit Union, the Yancey family awarded the Kathryn Yancey LaBorie Scholarship to Mayra Jaramillo, a 2021 Mitchell graduate and freshman at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Receiving the scholarship from the Yancey family held a greater significance than the money involved, Jaramillo said.
“I participated in this ceremony when I was here, so this means a lot to me,” said Jaramillo, a first-generation collegian and nursing major. “The money will help with my tuition of course, but it really means a lot to receive it from this family.”
Cadet Aniasco, a Mitchell senior, said she relishes the annual observance despite the fact that the terrorist attacks took place before she was born.
“I am so honored that we get to represent Kathryn and all the other victims of 9/11,” she said. “It’s an amazing thing that we do here, and I love it.”