Remembering One of Their Own
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Red, white and blue. The three colors that represent the American flag, two of which are also the school colors for Bellefonte Area High School. However, you may notice a navy blue bench that sits on the front lawn of the school. What you might not know is the significance behind it. As our nation mourns the lives lost on September 11th, 2001, the Bellefonte Area School District remembers one of its own. Twenty-six-year-old Navy Lieutenant Jonas Panik, a 1993 Bellefonte Area graduate, died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was killed at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The district's Public Relations Director Brit Milazzo says people frequently ask for the reasoning behind the color of the navy blue bench that stands out against the red and white backdrop of the high school. The dark blue bench honors and remembers the legacy Lieutenant Panik left within the Bellefonte community. He is remembered as an outstanding student star athlete and wonderful person with a bright future. The district has multiple memorials in his name to honor his memory including the track at the renovated Rogers Stadium, which is, in part, named after him. There is also the Lieutenant Jonas Martin Panik USNR Scholarship Award given to a Bellefonte student pursuing a military career through an academy or ROTC program at college. A hometown hero, loving son, brother, uncle husband and friend...lost too soon, but never forgotten. 18 years later, the school continues to pause for a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m. on 9/11, observing the time in which American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. Bellefonte is not the only community within Centre County remembering the fallen on this day. The Penn State College Republicans organize a tribute every year, placing 2,996 flags on the south lawn of Old Main. Each flag represents a life lost in the September 11th, 2001, tragedy. 125 of those victims died inside the Pentagon, including Lieutenant Panik. Another 64 victims were on the plane that hit it.