Christina McIntyre, a junior at Bel Air High School, does not remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But that did not stop her from organizing a stunning memorial for victims of the tragedy.
"I think 9/11, it's kind of like a turning point for all the history of our country," McIntyre said. "We'll look back on this time 50 years from now, 100 years from now and think, '9/11, that's where things turned.' And so I wanted students also to really recognize the freedoms that they are blessed to have."
That is why the president of the school's Junior State of America chapter rallied more than 20 of her peers to stake 2,977 American flags—one for each death—in front of the main entrance.
"I wanted people to look out here and say first thing you're going to see is, 'Oh my gosh—that's a lot of flags.' But then you realize, each flag represents a life that was lost," said McIntyre, who founded the national JSA club at her school last year.
The precocious and patriotic student enlisted the help of Andrew Austing, a social studies teacher in his sixth year at Bel Air, to serve as the faculty sponsor.
"She just kind of came to me with the idea and said she wanted to do a memorial for the 9/11 victims," said Austing, who has helped the BAHS JSA since its inception.
At that point it was a matter of administrative approval, which Principal Joe Voskuhl provided.
"I am so thankful that Bel Air High School can be blessed to have this," McIntyre stated. "This is a physical thing; this is something you see. You have to see the physical thing to see what more is behind it."
The junior, whose dream job is to teach American government, appreciates her rights.
"It's because of what we stand for we were attacked. Because of our Constitution, which we are so proud of, that we can't lose hold of," she said.
McIntyre's hope is that Bel Air is not the only school in the area to take similar initiatives.
"I'd actually like to see more schools in Harford County do something like this, especially with next year being the 10th anniversary," she added.
"Through [JSA, we're] trying to make the students more community-driven, more politically aware and active," he said. "We're trying to touch base with other schools in the county as far as doing a memorial like this. But we're going to try to do it every year."
The memorial will be on display until next weekend.