Last week on Sept. 11, the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was not overlooked by the Multicultural Greek Council on campus.
The organization hosted a ceremony and candlelit vigil to honor those who lost their lives and fought to save others on 9/11.
“9/11 is an event that affected my life, personally,” said Camille Brugnara, event coordinator for the Multicultural Greek Council. “I was eight when it happened, and it took away my innocence. Before the attacks, I thought the world was a great place.”
The Multicultural Greek Council used the event this past Wednesday evening to commemorate and fundraise for firefighters.
A ceremony and candlelit vigil were held at the Bell Tower, where anyone from the Temple community could donate to the Jessica Locke Firefighters Fund. For each dollar, a donor could light a candle in honor of the lives lost in the attacks.
The Rev. Stanley Williams led the candlelit vigil.
The Firefighters Fund is based in Boston and was developed by Jessica Locke, who felt a calling to help mentally and physically heal the firefighters involved in the attacks. She was deeply touched by the pain they had gone through after acting as first responders.
Many firefighters suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder in reaction to their experience, which led some to leave their jobs and suffer its negative impact on their personal lives. In the most severe cases, some with PTSD even commit suicide. Creating the charity to benefit firefighters was Locke’s reaction.
The Jessica Locke Firefighters Fund helps provide financial and medical rehabilitative support and access to alternative healthcare for all injuries. All of the funding benefits firefighters who struggle with PTSD and other trauma-related illnesses. Additional money from the fund also goes toward new equipment for the firehouses.
The ceremony featured Philadelphia’s own Battalion Chief Joaquin E. Colon, who traveled up to New York City at the time of the attacks to help out his fellow firefighters.
“We had busloads going over there,” Colon said. “You could smell the stench from the fire, it was really bad.”
Colon said that the magnitude of the flames was shocking not only to the public, but to firefighters as well. It created a painfully memorable awareness of how tremendous fires in extreme situations can become.
“The look on their faces was like they had been defeated,” Colon said.
Despite his traumatic experience on that day 12 years ago, Colon is still an active firefighter in Philadelphia.
The members of the various organizations in the Multicultural Greek Council said they feel that it’s important to honor the firefighters who heroically responded to the distress calls on Sept. 11, along with the victims who lost their lives. This is the first year the MGC has organized such an event in commemoration of the anniversary of the attacks.
Members said they hope to continue it every year from now on.
“We are doing it this year in order to raise awareness of the firefighters that were disabled as a result of 9/11, as well as paying tribute to those who lost their lives,” Deija Brantley, president of Lambda Tau Omega Sorority Inc., said. “They are the unsung heroes of such tragedies. We hope to do this again in the future. It is important that we not forget about such a tragedy like 9/11 and those who have been affected directly.”
The members of the organizations in the Multicultural Greek Council have also been doing can shakes to raise additional money for the Jessica Locke Firefighters Fund.
Members of Temple’s spoken poetry group Babel also attended the event and recited two poems in honor of the anniversary.
Although the anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11 is a sad day for everyone, members from different organizations were able to unite for the common purpose of repaying the heroes that serve our nation.
Mary Smith can be reached at email@example.com.[vimeo 74573275 w=750h=400]