Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) hosted special 9/11 remembrance ceremonies at both of its campuses to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, recognize first responders who risk their lives to help others and honor military personnel who defend the United States.
The ceremony at the Veterans Resource Center at Central Campus in Blue Bell featured the dedication of a plaque in memory of former MCCC student veteran, Brent Worthington, Lansdale, who served as the president of the Veterans Club. The plaque is positioned at the base of the recently installed flag pole, which displays the American and POW-MIA flags.
MCCC student Alondra Santos Castillo started the ceremony by singing the national anthem, while members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard raised the flag.
Brent’s older sister, Christie Worthington, Telford, spoke about his accomplishments and dedication to the Student Veterans Organization (SVO).
“Brent did many things in his short life. He was a volunteer firefighter, paramedic and hyperbaric technician, but his proudest moments were from the work he did here. He helped to organize many events, including the Veterans Appreciation banquet… He made connections with campus clubs, the VFW and the Disabled Veterans of America. The first Pottstown Chapter of SVO was started because of Brent…
“Since my brother is no longer here to do so, I will carry on his legacy… I hope to make him proud. Brent was and will always be my hero. He was courageous in his fight with PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder] and made me proud to be his sister,” she said.
Worthington died on Aug. 2, 2015, after a short illness. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Iraq War. Following his discharge, he enrolled at MCCC, where he served as president of the Veterans Club, Student Government Association Senator and American Student Association of Community Colleges president for 2013-14. He also volunteered as a firefighter with the Norristown Fire Department and as a paramedic and hyperbaric technician with local EMS 308.
MCCC Coordinator of Veterans Services Michael Brown noted in his opening remarks he and the student veterans decided on the plaque as a special way to honor Worthington’s efforts. The student veterans also requested to have their own flagpole by the Veterans Resource Center, which the College recently installed with a light so the flag can fly continuously.
Other guest speakers included Sean Kilkenny, who is the Montgomery County Sheriff, U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel and MCCC Board of Trustee member; State Representative Kate M. Harper of the 61st Legislative District; and MCCC President Dr. Kevin Pollock.
“When veterans return home they feel different because they have been away from their family and friends and support structure, and they often feel isolated,” said Kilkenny, who recently graduated from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pa., with a master’s degree in Strategic Studies. “The Veterans Resource Center provides a place for camaraderie and support, both academic and emotional.”
Representative Harper, who acknowledged her son also is a Marine, expressed her sentiments about 9/11.
“It is very appropriate that Montgomery County Community College, which represents the community, have this flag pole [and plaque] dedication and ceremony for 9/11,” said Rep. Harper, noting that the flying flag shows we’re still here and will remember those who died, honor the first responders who save lives and those who protect us.
MCCC President Dr. Pollock also thanked veterans, military personnel and first responders for their sacrifices and service.
“What can we do? To honor Brent and other veterans and first responders, you can push yourself to be better,” Dr. Pollock said.
In conclusion, Brown noted how meaningful the Veterans Resource Center is for student veterans because it provides a place where they can come and decompress after class.
The College has nearly 400 student veterans at Blue Bell and Pottstown campuses combined.
A similar remembrance ceremony also was held at South Hall at West Campus in Pottstown. The guest speakers were Denise Williams, the Veterans Services Resource Specialist for Pottstown; Dr. David DiMattio, Vice President of the West Campus; Chief F. Richard Drumheller, Chief of Police of the Pottstown Police Department; and Russell DelRosario, MCCC Director of Campus Safety for Pottstown and former New York Police Department officer.
In conjunction with the event, a Blood Drive was held at Central Campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in College Hall 144/148.