Valencia College Offers Tribute to 9/11 First Responders


Denise Diaz

Flags fly across Valencia College campuses to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Denise Diaz, Reporter

This year marks 20 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. What started out a normal day turned into a remarkable day in history.

Valencia Student Development and the West Campus Criminal Justice Club joined together to present a 9/11 Tribute to commemorate the American lives lost and the heroism of first responders.

The tribute opened with a moment of silence and a picture of Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers once stood. Footage from 9/11 played across the screen, showing graphic images of the airplanes striking the buildings, people jumping from the towers, first responders running to the scene, and the streets flooded with debris and smoke after the towers collapsed.

Valencia College President, Dr. Kathleen Plinske, shared heartfelt words, “I will never forget the sense of utter devastation when the towers collapsed. I will never forget the sense of gratitude at seeing emergency responders running toward the attacks when everyone else was running away.”

Apopka firefighter and Valencia College graduate, Jeremias Williams, sang the National Anthem, God Bless America, and Amazing Grace in honor of 9/11.

Mayor Jerry Demings spoke of a nation united. “These acts of terrorism did not tear us apart or break our spirits. It made our nation stronger.”

During the tribute, Valencians thanked first responders and the civilians for their bravery on 9/11. Faculty and staff shared what they felt that day as the attacks unfolded.

While some were reflecting, others were learning. “It is important to remember that in 2001, many of our students were too young or perhaps not even born to understand the magnitude of the events of Sept. 11, 2001,” Dr. Plinske shared during her message.

For Americans, the attacks on 9/11 will never be erased. It was a moment in time when the entire nation paused. America watched as the attacks claimed the lives of thousands. Now, 20 years later, Valencia College and all of America come together to pay their respects to the lives lost and to honor the heroes of September 11, 2001.