SCF Campuses to Hold 9/11 Commemoration

(Bradenton, Fla., September 8, 2015) – Dianne Spence, a retired NYPD First Grade Detective who arrived at ground zero shortly after the collapse of the World Trade Center, will be the keynote speaker at a 9/11 ceremony at the Bradenton campus of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) beginning at 8:45 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11.

SCF Venice also will commemorate the anniversary with a separate observance featuring Brandon Henry, an SCF student and Army combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq.

SCF Lakewood Ranch will hold its first ever memorial with Engineer Jefferson Bagley, who has served more than 10 years with East Manatee County Fire Rescue Station 4, offering his perspective. All events are free and open to the public.

Spence, who now works as a resource officer at the SCF Collegiate School, served on the NYPD for more than 22 years. At the time of the attack, she was assigned to the Narcotics Division of the South Bronx. Upon her arrival at the twin towers, she joined one of the iconic bucket brigades.

“I arrived shortly after the tower collapsed and didn’t go home until five days later,” Spence said.

She remained involved in the rescue and recovery efforts for the next six months, including many 12-hour shifts working as a “sifter,” painstakingly searching through debris shipped from ground zero to a Staten Island landfill for anything that could help identify the victims.

While she tends to be very private about her connection to 9/11, Spence agreed to share her story to ensure that no one ever forgets that fateful day, not so much for the tragedy of it, but for the way the nation came together in response.

“It made us so much stronger as a country. People all came together and supported one another. I really want to share what that was like,” she said, recalling driving down the West Side Highway on her way to work to the applause of people who lined the road to show their appreciation.

Spence, who began working at SCF in April, also is touched that the College hosts these public observances of the anniversary.

“It happened so far away from here,” she said. “To have the place where I am now employed make a point of remembering the day means the world to me.”

The ceremony will begin at the flagpole at the 26th Street West entrance to SCF Bradenton with a welcome from Student Life Resource Officer Christopher Wardman. Randy Kennedy, a U.S. Army veteran and member of the SCF Bradenton chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA), also will speak. The Rev. Bryan D. O’Carroll will lead a prayer followed by a moment of silence.

The Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue crew will have trucks positioned with emergency lights to recognize fallen 9/11 fire rescue workers. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office also will take part and Sergeant Debritto and Staff Sergeant Gomez, both from the Recruiting Station Sarasota, will lower the flag to half-staff, accompanied by SCF students John D’Amico and Carlos Guerra on the trumpet.

SCF Venice

The Venice Campus Chapter of SVA will host the 9/11 SCF Venice ceremony at 9:30 a.m. in the circular drive by the flagpoles at the entrance to the College. The featured speaker will be SCF student and SVA Vice President Brandon Henry. 

Henry is an Army combat veteran and military police specialized search dog handler who served two combat tours in Iraq. He is working toward his Associate in Arts degree, with plans to attend the University of South Florida to earn a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.  

Sergeant Robert S. Massuci, head of SCF Venice Campus Public Safety, will lead the flag ceremony. Sgt. Massuci joined the Rome, N.Y., Police Department as a patrolman in January of 1988. After retiring from the police force in July of 2008, he joined State College of Florida’s Public Safety Office. 

Venice Station No. 26 firefighters Lt. Kelly Cosgrove, Jamel Haisley, Juan Gonzalez and Joshua Fuller will assist in the flag ceremony. The North Port High School Sextet directed by Chris Brown will perform the National Anthem and Amazing Grace. The sextet consists of students Kayle Brown, Sara Damasco, Angelina Darby, Sara Hart, Hillary Newton and Ericka Weaver. In addition, North Port High School student Denae Rabinette will participate for the second year in a row, playing Taps at the conclusion of the ceremony. 

SCF Lakewood Ranch

The SCF Lakewood Ranch ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. at the main flagpole. SCF Bradenton Veterans Advisor Delane Solana, a former U.S. Marine, will host the ceremony, which has special meaning to her as her brother-in-law, also a former Marine, was a survivor from the South Tower. The keynote speaker will be Engineer Jefferson Bagley, who has served more than 10 years with East Manatee County Fire Rescue Station No. 4. Other Station No. 4 members also will be in attendance.

Commandant Mike Monteleone from the Marine Corps League Detachment No. 588 will serve as Chaplain, leading a prayer and a moment of silence. Other members of No. 588, including L.J. Canfield, Bill Jarowyi, Bob Fields, Dave Klein, Linda Klein, Stephen Dalton and Cris Lovell, will lower the flag to half-staff and play Taps. SCF Choir member Cami McLean, soprano, will sing Amazing Grace.

Daisy Vulovich, AVP of Corporate and Community Development, will make closing remarks.

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