Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College students and staff gathered Wednesday to mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an event that still remains a visceral memory for some in the campus community.
Among them: Local paramedic Christopher Houchin, who was one of about 40 people who attended the remembrance ceremony in a conference room in campus building F.
“It’s something that’ll be in my brain forever,” Houchin said, recalling how school buses were used at the time to block entrances to hospitals and fire departments to thwart rumored threats. “It changed the way we do things for EMS drastically, that day.”
Houchin was one of several local first responders invited to the campus event, though he was completely surprised to be awarded a $500 scholarship.
Houchin said he plans to use it to continue pursuing his nursing degree.
“I just want to travel in a couple of years and do nursing,” Houchin said.
Along with honoring the nation’s veterans and first responders, event organizer Julie Katz said it also aimed to educate young students about the significance of the attacks, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
The event featured a pictorial timeline to walk viewers through every moment of the attacks.
“A lot of them don’t understand,” said Katz, an academic adviser and school certifying official for SKYCTC’s Veterans Services.
“We try to impart what the spirit of America was after 9/11, and it truly was completely different,” Katz said, noting that the country seemed to come together after the attacks.
During the remembrance event, SKYCTC Provost James McCaslin offered his own reflection of the attacks, which he described as seared into his memory.
Speaking to the campus’ younger students, McCaslin said he hoped their lives wouldn’t be defined by tumultuous events, like the current pandemic.
“My prayer is … that this is as bad as it gets,” he said. “The only way that we can ensure that this is as bad as it gets is if we continue to remember what has happened in the past, and that’s why we pause today.”
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