Hundreds of people gathered today at Valencia College’s Osceola Campus to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The college hosted Osceola County’s Sept. 11 county-wide memorial service, which included participants from the Osceola County’s Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County Emergency Services, Kissimmee Police and Fire Departments, St. Cloud Police and Fire Departments, and the Osceola County Veteran’s Council.
A steady wind during the ceremony gave even more impact to a display of nearly 3,000 flags—one for each of the lives lost on that tragic day—which filled the expansive lawn on the Osceola Campus.
In her opening speech, Dr. Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia’s Osceola and Lake Nona campuses, shed light on why it was important for a college to host this event.
“We honor the memory of all who we lost in hopes that the younger generation never forgets,” she said.
In fact, for the many Valencia students who were only six or seven years old on Sept. 11, 2001, the memorial served as a way to learn about the events of that tragic day.
“When you see each and every flag, it has more meaning, because you know it is for a person,” said Anne St Louis, a Valencia student who was in elementary school during the attacks.
It took seven days and a community-wide team of volunteers to install the 2,977 flags, which will be on display through Sept. 14. The Rotary Club of Lake Nona assembled the volunteers and secured sponsors to raise the money to buy the supplies for the flag display. Volunteers included: Rotarians, cadets of the Civil Air Patrol, members of the U.S. Fire Department Reserve Corp and U.S. Navy Future Sailors program, members of the Osceola Sheriff’s Explorers, volunteers from local churches, and Valencia students, faculty, and staff.
The Rotary Club of Lake Nona has pledged that any additional funds raised will go toward a scholarship with the Valencia Foundation to help pay for continuing education for men and women who are currently police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
The week of remembrance will continue at the Osceola Campus with a number of events intended to help students learn about different religious faiths and develop a deeper appreciation for diversity, peace and acceptance. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, there will be a screening of the documentary “Joyeux Noel,” followed by a discussion. On Thursday, Sept. 13, the Sikh Society of Central Florida will give a presentation on religious understanding.