USF Sarasota-Manatee held a 9/11 remembrance ceremony to honor victims, heroes and first-responders.
Hundreds of community members gathered at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus to remember Sept. 11 and honor the victims and heroes of the terrorist attack. The ceremony began with a flag-raising by the Marine Corps Color Guard from the Fourth Amphibious Assault Battalion in Tampa.
Attendees then gathered around the campus lawn which was lined with 2,977 small American flags, one for each victim. The flags were placed by volunteers, students and first-responders the day before.
“It’s so important to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11, as well as the courageous efforts of our first responders and military,” said Carlos Moreira, USFSM’s veteran services administrator and one of the ceremony’s organizers. “Our nation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors and a survivor of the attack, was the event’s guests of honor and keynote speaker. He escaped the World Trade Center’s south tower and witnessed American Airlines Flight 11 crash into the north tower.
“The images of 9/11 feel like a movie, but to see it first-hand was indelible,” Kotok said.
The ceremony also featured the children’s choir from Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School who sang the national anthem and students from the Sarasota Military Academy performed a flag-passing ritual to symbolize the nation’s response to the terrorist attack.
“Each of us can remember the range of emotions we felt,” USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook said during the ceremony's closing remarks. “Most significantly, we turned to one another for healing, but those emotions have probably become less poignant over the years. I wish for us this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to a sense of community and willingness to help one another.”