On Friday, Sept. 11, Santa Clara High School’s football team won both the late afternoon junior varsity game and evening varsity game, 19-0 and 31-0, respectively, against Gunderson High School. The school also hosted Armed Forces Night in conjunction with the first home games of the school year. At least a dozen alumni serving as armed forces members or first responders were on hand. During the varsity game, names of those alumni were announced. Some alumni enjoyed refreshments at a reception and admired the metallic star-shaped balloons featuring the American flag set up in their honor.
“The objective of this event is to say ‘thank you’ to our armed forces and first responders from Santa Clara High School and Buchser High School who have served our country and our community,” says Anthony Butler, president of the school’s alumni association. “Historically, Santa Clara High School used to be Buchser High School. There’s this whole historical thing that happened in the ’80s. I was in grade school then. What I know is that Buchser High School became Santa Clara High School, and Santa Clara High School became Buchser Middle School. Every summer, the Buchser High School graduates have an alumni barbeque and the Santa Clara High football coach [Hank Roberts] and I want them to know they still have a home with Santa Clara High.”
At the reception, a couple of attendees spoke about their work and reflected on how the horrific attacks on America on Sept.11, 2001 impacted their lives.
Lance Cpl. Patrick McCaffrey is in the school’s class of 2013. He came to the football game to watch his brother, Antonio Soto, play. Now serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, McCaffrey remembers Sept. 11, even though he was a young child at that time.
“I woke up and was watching the news and I saw the footage of the planes hitting the towers,” he says. “My dad signed up for the Army three days later. He was killed in Iraq in 2004. I joined the military in 2014 and I’m going to Iraq next month.”
Part of the school’s class of 1987 is Maj. Joseph LaJeunesse, who serves in the U.S. Army’s military police and is a deputy sheriff with the Santa Clara County. Currently stationed in Hawaii, LaJeunesse flew into the Bay Area in the morning to visit his alma mater. He explains that the Army sometimes calls on him to report to duty. When he’s finished with his military duty, he returns to his job as a deputy sheriff.
“When Sept. 11 happened, I was called out that day to Fort Lewis, Washington and I was there for 10 months,” LaJeunesse says. “While there, I met [my future wife], who was in the California National Guard. Her unit got sent there and my unit got sent there. We started dating when we came home to California and we got married before our deployment to Iraq.”