OBERLIN – They may not have fully grasped what had happened, but they remember where they were when it occurred.
Lorain County Joint Vocational School student Efrain Gonzalez was sitting in his first-grade classroom, listening to his teacher read a book when the teacher next door ran into the classroom and whispered to her.
“I hadn’t been paying attention that day; otherwise, I may have noticed the grim looks and panic in their eyes. At the time, all I knew was that if they were scared, I had reason to be,” he said.
The school day was over for Gonzalez on that day – Sept. 11, 2001.
Students and teachers stayed glued to the television watching the Twin Towers disintegrate.
“I didn’t understand what had happened and the rest of that day is a blur, but I remember where I was,” Gonzalez told a group of his classmates at Lorain County JVS.
Gonzalez, a senior at Marion L. Steele High School in Amherst, was chosen by a panel at Lorain County JVS, where he is studying law enforcement, to read his essay about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Gonzalez said students were given the opportunity to submit their essays, and he jumped at the chance to participate in the school’s ceremony Wednesday morning.
“I consider it an honor,” he said.
Gonzalez joined approximately 45 other Lorain County JVS law enforcement students to perform the ceremony, including a ceremonial flag lowering in honor of those who lost their lives. The flag contained 600 names of the first responders who died that day.
The student body stood around a 7-foot section from a larger beam that was recovered from the wreckage of the WorldTradeCenter.
JVS supervisor Charlie Warthling set out to get the beam from the New York-New Jersey Port Authority in 2009. He received a 28-foot beam, which was cut into four pieces by students in the JVS Welding and Fabrication Program. Three of the pieces were distributed to other education and service organizations in the state, and the remaining piece was welded to two steel supports that represent the WorldTradeCenter.
The beam was placed at a memorial on JVS’s campus and is positioned at a 9.11 degree angle on a pentagon-shaped platform. Two twin beams of light illuminate the memorial at night, making it visible from state Route 58.
Warthling, who plans to organize memorial ceremonies each year, said it’s important to continue teaching students about that day, especially since the younger students won’t have their own experiences to share.
“Now, every other generation will be able to remember,” he said.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.