Fifteen years later, the college remembers the victims and heroes of the tragedy.
By James Dusek
Students, staff and faculty gathered for a 9/11 memorial on the morning of Sept. 12 at this college.
A crowd of about 100 joined a procession through campus, walking behind the Alamo Colleges’ honor guard, this college’s Regional Fire Academy classes 327 and 325, and a hearse.
The ceremony began between Candler Physical Education Center and Scobee Education Center, and ended in front of the 9/11 memorial marker in front of Chance Academic Center.
When the procession came to a final stop in front of the marker, fire academy Instructor Abel Campos rang a bell in accordance with a tradition known as “striking the four fives.” The bell rang out across campus in four sets of five chimes, a signal traditionally used to announce and honor the death of a firefighter.
The event was a reminder to students of the importance of the tragedy that shook the United States 15 years ago.
“It’s important for colleges to take the opportunity to make sure students, who may not remember, who maybe were still young … have these times to come together and reflect and hear what it meant,” said Dr. Jothany Blackwood, vice president of academic success.
Older students must also communicate the importance of the tragedy to their younger peers, said Dr. Jose Luis Moreno, mortuary science program coordinator.
“The ones who were already of age, who can remember and can transmit the story to new generations, have been the ones with the task of letting the new generation be aware of what happened,” Moreno said.
Young students may not have vivid memories of towers falling and smoke billowing, but many remember quite well the effect that it had on those close to them.
“We were little; we didn’t know what was happening, but I remember the teacher started crying,” said mortuary science sophomore Annamarie Lopez, who was in kindergarten on 9/11.
The ceremony honored the first responders who took quick action during the events.
“As we remember, we must also pay tribute to our first responders. … Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your bravery, thank you for protecting us,” Blackwood said in her speech, noticeably holding back tears.
Even in the face of death and danger, the attacks have inspired a new generation of first responders, said Zach Baldwin, Captain of Class 327.
“I know for a lot of people here, it may be why they’re here. They may be here so they can serve in the memory of their fallen brothers,” Baldwin said.
“Even though they can’t remember that day, I still do believe they feel the connection. I’ve seen it in the faces of my fellow cadets … Even the young ones,” Baldwin said.
After a speech by Blackwood and prayer by the Rev. Johnny Silva, director of the Methodist Student Center, the ceremony ended with a moment of silence. In those 28 seconds of reverence, a mass of students, teachers, coordinators and first responders of all ages stood as one in remembering the attacks, their victims and those who gave their lives on that day.
“People don’t die until we stop talking about them,” Moreno said. “They live throughout generations because of the stories that we say about our predecessors and our relatives.”