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VICTORVILLE — The sound of marching and synchronized shouts were heard as Victor Valley College law enforcement, fire technology, and paramedic students signaled the start of the college’s annual Patriot Day Ceremony.
About 250 students, VVC employees, and community members gathered around the “United We Stand” Monument outside the Library at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday to honor the memory of the victims of September 11th, 2001.
“Thank you for coming, thank you for remembering, and thank you for making this world a better place,” said Regina Cervantes, a 9/11 survivor and local resident. “First responders from every corner of the world assisted our nation and I thank you for continuing the legacy of remembering.”
Another survivor, Charlie Gyles, traveled from New York to attend the college’s ceremony and help lay the 3,000 American flags the week prior.
“Eighteen years ago, our country was attacked, unprovoked,” Gyles said. “For many years, I’m told, this college remembers. And we appreciate that.”
Cervantes and Gyles presented the college with a floral wreath to lay in memory beside the monument as well as the official “Remember 911 Flag,” which the college flew at half-staff.
Captain Health Cohen, the Fire Technology Program director, spoke of the dangerous, yet rewarding career of firefighting, noting that 546 total firefighters lost their lives as a result of 9/11, many on that day and others subsequently due to illness. He commended VVC Fire Academy 52 for choosing the career path, adding that it has “the highest approval rating of any profession.”
“Why? Because we do what has to be done,” Cohen said. “We are noble, we are self-sacrificing, we are willing to risk our lives to save a total stranger.”
Following Cohen’s introduction, VVC Instructional Media Services Coordinator Tim Isbell delivered the invocation, quoting a “Prayer of Remembrance for 9/11” from Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago.
“We remember the heroism of the many that lost their lives in saving others,” Isbell recited. “We remember all those who suffered and died, we grieve for them still, friends and strangers alike, along with their families and friends.”
Superintendent/President Dr. Daniel Walden thanked all of the participating students in the ceremony, who represented the nursing, paramedic, emergency medical services, and criminal justice programs.
“We are here today to remember. And we will never forget,” Walden said. “We’re here to repair, to comfort, and to do everything that we can to make this world a safer place.”
Music Department chair and vocal music director Dr. Karen Miskell led the College Singers in performing “America the Beautiful” and “Earth Song,” their soothing harmonies allowing attendees to share a moment of reflection together.
Everyone was then asked to turn and look over the lake, where, over the golden reflection of dawn sunlight on the water, music faculty member Craig Pridmore stood at the Pearl Pettis Pavilion. His playing of “Taps” from the gazebo concluded VVC’s Patriot Day ceremony.