Valencia College Remembers the 20th Anniversary of 9/11


Denise Diaz

9/11 Flag display at the Valencia Osceola Campus in honor of almost 3000 lives lost.

Denise Diaz, Reporter

The terror America faced on September 11, 2001 changed the country forever.   To commemorate the event, Valencia College’s Osceola Campus remembered the lives lost with tributes, including a flag display, on display until September 17, and a panel discussion about that day and the aftermath.

The panel consisted of Valencia College’s own veterans Angel Lopez and Professor Jim Hawn. Other panel members included World Trade Center Building 2 survivor Daniel Narlock, State Senator Victor Torres Jr., Police Department Lt. Omar Berrio, and Kissimmee Fire Chief James Walls. The discussion provided the audience with historical content of events leading to 9/11 and what happened after.

Veteran and Valencia College Professor Hawn recalled that “everybody was scared.” Hawn explained the improvement of airline security following the attacks, but also the backlash against Middle Eastern citizens. He remembered “a heavy police presence in the airport” and how the 9/11 attacks affected everyone.

Senator Victor Torres Jr. gave his perspective on flying to the Washington D.C. shortly after the attacks. Acknowledging that he is a person of color, the Senator remembered the suspicions from citizens profiling him. He says, “it was so nerve wrecking. Here I am, a veteran, served in the Marine Corp, top secret clearance, retired detective of New York City law enforcement and I’m being watched because of the color of my skin. That was the reality.”

But while there was fear and division, true courage and heroism sparked throughout the nation.

Valencia student and veteran, Angel Lopez, shared his remembrance of 9/11 saying, “September 11 is something that is burned into my memory. I will never forget where I was or what I was doing that day.  I mean it has changed my life. It changed every veteran’s life,” Lopez said.   He added, “The mission ‘til this day is still the same, just do not touch America.”

Unity became possible amidst a time of fear. When the nation didn’t understand what was going on or what would happen next, Americans united providing support and empathy to one another. Every year since 2001, we remember these lives, so they aren’t lost in vain.

Senator Torres quoted the widely popular phrase to youth everywhere saying “9/11, gone but not forgotten,” hoping to keep the message of unity alive in the generations to come.