At 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11 SG invited local veterans, students and staff to honor the lives that were lost and reflect upon the events that transpired 14 years ago, September 11, 2001.
The Veterans Pavilion, built thanks to the students involved in SG two years ago, was decorated in red, white and blue, and served as a meeting place for those who served in uniform during the attacks, as well as students and staff who were affected by the tragedy.
“The 9/11 ceremony was a bit different than other events because it focused on remembering a somber event that changed American history, in our own lifetime,” said Lauren Mazzoleni, SG director of governmental relations.
“The ceremony recognized veterans registered at FGCU along with students who lost someone in the attacks, and first responders that help FGCU students every day.”
Following the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence, SG President Thieldens Elneus introduced the event’s main speaker, University President Wilson Bradshaw.
“It’s hard on Sept. 11 for all of us not to have those devastating images [in our mind] that we remember from that day 14 years ago,” Bradshaw said. “And it was not just the images, it was the impact that it had on our country.”
Bradshaw discussed the bravery he saw from first responders and others who helped those in need that day.
“Our men and women in uniform, they have sacrificed and paid the price
over many decades,” Bradshaw said.
Planning for the ceremony began during the summer at the Student Government Retreat. Mazzoleni was the main person working on the event, collaborating with both the FGCU community and the city of Estero.
Elneus then encouraged the crowd to come up to the stage and share their personal stories from Sept. 11.
Monette Duck, FGCU Admissions Office manager, was working on the 104th floor of the second World Trade Center tower while the attacks happened.
“I can’t even begin to tell you my horrific story,” Duck said. “But I am thankful and grateful to be here today.”
Tim Tyler, a Fort Myers resident, was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Hue City on the way to Puerto Rico for naval training when the towers were attacked. The ship was one of two military ships assigned to protect the airways after the attacks.
SG provided small tokens of appreciation for those who attended the event and had lunch for attendees, provided by Mission Barbeque.
Fire Chief David Cambareri took to the pavilion to thank SG, Bradshaw and the students on behalf of the fire department for putting on the event.
Chief of Police Steve Moore also discussed where he was during 9/11 and thanked the firefighters who sacrificed their lives that day.
Juan Menendez, a software engineering major and Army veteran discussed how he decided to join the military after the events Sept. 11.
“I served six years in the Army, and that decision has had a significant impact my life,” Menendez said. “I just wanted to say thank you to the Student Government and to the university. Things like this make me feel like I’m appreciated.”