Never forget September 11, 2001
Winding Waters K-8 school held a memorial event on September 11, 2019 to share with the middle school students stories, pictures, and information of the tragic events that took place on September 11, 2001.
A variety of people were in attendance from the Hernando County Fire Rescue including Captain Cindy Bittiker, Captain Tony Carrolo, Captain Brian Nigro and Battalion Chief Kevin Rittenhouse who spoke about where he was and how that tragic day has changed his life. John Lightsey, a retired New York Firefighter, spoke about what his day was like that morning and the days that followed after. Hernando County Detective George Loydgren also described the unfolding events. Winding Waters principal Janet Cerro spoke out about some family members that were affected by that day.
September 11, 2001 is a day in history that America will never forget. “If you don’t know what happened, then ask about it, get educated on this tragic day that took place in America,” Kevin Rittenhouse said. Holding events like this in schools helps educate the younger generations on the recent history of our country. Some of the people that spoke to the middle schoolers were physically at Ground Zero the day the world stopped spinning in America.
The speakers addressed the students about a variety of different emotions they were feeling at the time of the attacks. The students were asked to go home and ask their family members where they were on September 11, 2001 when they heard the tragic news.
Detective George Loydgren went into great detail of that day and where he was. He was a police officer on duty that responded to the scene. What was supposed to be just a normal day of dealing with search warrants quickly changed. He got a late start and didn’t go in until 9 am and to top it off, his phone was dead. He was driving to work when the radio stated the one tower had been hit by a plane. He got to the office where police were still assessing the situation. Realizing how bad it was, officers began responding to the scene. Loydgren was on his way to the World Trade Center when the first tower collapsed. He expressed in great detail to the students the cloud of smoke and debris that followed. Then he stated the second tower was hit. “September 11, 2001 is an event that changed America forever. During this time though, everyone put everything aside and came together in such a tragic event,” George Loydgren expressed. Before he began speaking to the students, he stated this is something he still doesn’t talk about much.
New York is a busy state, lots of traffic and many people. A state that isn’t very quiet. “When the second tower came down everything went silent, that never happens in New York, there is always something going on,” John Lightsey explained.
John was a firefighter on duty that day in New York. He talked about how an average day quickly turned for the worst. When the first plane hit, it happened during the fire department’s shift change out. “When we heard that a plane crashed into the one tower over the radio no one was leaving the station,” John said. They loaded up and headed to the towers. John told everyone that the second tower was where they had temporary headquarters for police and firefighters, that’s where John’s station was headed. “I didn’t go home or have a break for four days,” John said. As the days went on everyone kept searching, rescuing, and helping recover. “As the days went on we would get phone calls of kids and wives asking for their dads and husbands, who we knew didn’t make it,” John expressed. Many miracles did happen that day with people being safe and found. Many people were not as lucky. “I feel guilty everyday for sending guys down to help. It was not an easy feeling seeing friends come across the list of deceased,” John emotionally told everyone.
Eighteen years later, people are still working to identify people and events that occurred that day. A firefighter that was killed on that day was just identified earlier this week. 8 Emts, 60 police officers, 343 firefighters, 2,997 civilians all lost their lives that day the speakers expressed to the classes. “Since September 11, 2001 241 firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer and health problems related to 9/11,” John said. Eighteen years later the effects still continue.
All these guest speakers experienced the Sept. 11 catastrophe first hand. “Giving your time and service is the ultimate sacrifice,” said Mr. Cooper, Winding Waters history teacher and event organizer.
The speakers told their stories, shared many photos in a slideshow and had objects from the towers such as a piece of marble from the World Trade Center plaza and apart of the I-beam from the North Tower. It was an emotional ceremony which expressed how September 11th is a day that changed America; a tragic day that is now a part of our history and needs to be remembered.
“We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember” - George W. Bush.