Students honor the victims of 9/11 at 16th annual ceremony (story, photos, video)

Mauro Flores, Emily Garza, and Justyne Bernal

Lauren Melendez, Staff Writer

At VMT’s 16th annual 9/11 ceremony, guest speaker Dr. William Ozinsky shed some light on what it’s like to live in service of this great nation, in the context of the fine arts — a concept all VMT students are familiar with.

Ozinsky is a music professor at Laredo Community College, as well as a captain in the United States Army Reserve and participates in psychological operations. During his speech, he shared his initial reaction when the news of 9/11 broke. He was able to recount the moment with a startling amount of detail, down to the very street he was driving on at that moment.

When asked about this after the ceremony, he said he was “confused at first, and then angry; very, very angry, and then after that lots of grief.”

He said he spent the next few days glued to his television and CNN.com, anxiously awaiting more news.

Eight months later, he enlisted to play the trumpet in the United States Army Band.

Wosinski then recounted on the time he spent in service of this country, as a musician. He said he has played “Taps” at over 1,200 funerals for veterans, calling this experience “intense and humbling.”

He has played at funerals for veterans from all walks of life, whether they were killed in action or committed suicide, for they “deserve [his] precision, nuance, and artistry.”

“I tell you this because what you do as artists matters,” he said to the audience.

September 11, 2001, marks a sad day in American history; a day that changed the nation impermeably and forever. On that fateful day, a group of militants affiliated with the terrorist group known as al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans when they hijacked four planes with the intention of targeting four of the nation’s landmarks. They carried out these heinous suicide attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but thankfully were unable to reach their fourth destination, thanks to four brave passengers on the infamous Flight 93.

(It’s) important to “be vigilant of the past … from world wars to having a knowledge of history in general, things that lead to these kinds of events. I think we just have to value our American freedoms.”

— Dr. William Ozinsky

When asked after the ceremony how the 9/11 attacks have shaped our future as a nation, Wosinski stated that it was important to “be vigilant of the past… from world wars to having a knowledge of history in general, things that lead to these kinds of events. I think we just have to value our American freedoms.”

The Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts hosts an annual ceremony to commemorate and honor those who lost their lives that tragic day in 2001. This year, the ceremony recognized a myriad of local veterans and police officers, who risked their lives to maintain the principles of freedom we Americans hold dear.

The ceremony began with a few words from the school’s principal, Dr. Martha Villarreal. She welcomed the day’s honored guests, including Dr. Sylvia Rios, LISD’s new superintendent; Jose Ortiz, captain of the fire department; a representative for Congressman Henry Cuellar; and the aforementioned guest speaker William Wosinski, among others.

Villarreal was eloquent in her remarks by saying “this nation will always prevail and stand proud. God bless America. God bless the USA.”

Senior Alexa Garcia read an excerpt from George Bush’s Patriot Day Proclamation, in which the then-president stated that the day must be memorialized with remembrance services and candlelight vigils, as well as a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.

At the 16th annual VMT 9/11 ceremony, students honored this tradition, remembering the victims of these violent attacks, and recognizing those who risked their lives to ensure our safety.

The ceremony also featured the VMT choir, which sang the national anthem as well as the VMT strings department. Later, Wosinski asked the audience to observe a moment of silence, which was followed by 10 chimes of a  bell — one for every 300 people who lost their lives that day.

Also in the audience was Douglas Alford, a Navy veteran, who spoke passionately about how American citizens take action in times of crises such as 9/11, calling this “the American way.”

“You’ve seen it with Hurricane Harvey, you’ve seen it with Irene … The American individual steps forward … and they don’t do it to be recognized, they do it because it needs to be done, and that’s the American way,” Alford said. “It takes a special type of person to do that, and we have millions of them.”