Army Staff Sgt. Victor Camacho was already enlisted when the 9/11 attacks took place.
"I'm in deep thought—looking back today," said the 34-year-old father of a second grader at Alta Murrieta Elementary. He has seen things change in the military. There's been tighter security and the number of deployments has risen, he said.
Camacho, along with members of the Murrieta police and fire departments, answered an invitation to be honored as part of a Patriot Day ceremony that took place Tuesday morning at
Patriot Day was first marked on Sept. 11, 2002, a year after the terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
To remember the day, students in kindergarten through fifth grade donned their red, white and blue.
"We are honoring our local heroes," said Terry Picchiottino, principal of Alta Murrieta. "And those people that gave their lives to save other people's lives."
Picchiottino told Patch the campus has done some form of recognition ever since the year following 9/11.
He encouraged students to stop and thank their local first responders when they see them out in the community.
Students sang patriotic songs such as "The Grand Old Flag." Others read poems including "The American Soldier" and "September 11."
During lunch recess, students would get the opportunity to make cards
Ceremonies to mark the 11th anniversary of 9/11 were also held at campuses including Vista Murrieta and Murrieta Mesa high schools, as well as Cole Canyon and Antelope Hills elementary schools.
Many Alta Murrieta students were not yet born when Sept. 11, 2001, took place, but knew through their parents the magnitude of the day—students such as third-grader Emily Colavito, 8, who said her dad is from New York and she still has family there.
"Thousands of people died," said Emily. "And a bunch of people are fighting in the military for our country."
Her classmate, Hailey Guinn, 7, was also aware.
"I think I should remember all of the people who saved people's lives. They might have died with them," Hailey said.
Picchiottino gave his thoughts on why the school has remembered and will continue to mark the day.
"I feel that even though these kids were not around to witness the event that lead to the adoption of Patriot Day it is important part of our recent history and it is a way to honor all of our local first responders and military personnel," Picchiottino said.
"Our community has strong ties to all military branches due to our location. Character Education and patriotism are important ways to make connections to the affective needs of all people."