It was a day to celebrate heroes past, present and even future.
Fisler Elementary School on Friday, Sept. 9 hosted a group of Fullerton police officers and firefighters in a special tribute to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
With Fisler’s 900 students gathered in the school’s quad, the firefighters and police officers listened to a pair of student speeches that celebrated the heroism displayed by two individuals following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
Ellie Cha, 13, recounted the acts of bravery performed by Rick Rescorla, head of corporate security for the financial services firm Morgan Stanley. Rescorla is credited for safely evacuating more than 2,000 people from the trade center’s south tower.
A Vietnam veteran, Rescorla defied orders to keep employees at their desks just after the north tower was struck by the first plane.
Instead, Rescorla used a bullhorn, cell phone and walkie-talkie to efficiently guide the evacuation.
He was last seen alive on the 10th floor.
His body was never found.
“We are forever indebted to his ultimate sacrifice,” Cha said.
Susie Kim, 10, paid tribute to Welles Crowther, referred to as The Man in the Red Bandana.
Crowther was an equities trader working on the 104th floor of the south tower when the first plane struck the building.
Wearing a red bandana around his face to buffer his nose and mouth from the smoke, Crowther made his way to the 78th floor sky lobby and directed people to stairways.
He carried one woman down 15 flights and directed anyone who wasn’t too injured to help others.
Crowther himself didn’t survive.
His body was recovered about six months later.
“He was very courageous to think he could save dozens of people,” Kim said.
Julie Hudash, founder of the nonprofit Team Kids, which empowers children to perform a variety of service projects, told the Fisler students that they are also capable of heroic acts.
“My hope is that you realize that you are not too young,” Hudash said. “You are not too little. You are strong enough. You are absolutely the perfect age to make a difference in this world.”
Finally, Hudash encouraged the students to appreciate Fullerton police and firefighters.
“If there was ever an accident or something like that horrible day in September that occurs here, these are your heroes,” Hudash said. “These are the people who would run into your schools or buildings and protect you.”