Joe Torrillo, a firefighter in the South Tower of the World Trade Center when it collapsed, will speak at a memorial event in the Ragan Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 11 a.m. The event is planned and carried out by UVUSA.
Erin Haskell, the UVUSA vice president of academics, has been instrumental in the execution of the event. Haskell said she asked her eight student senators for ideas and Zach Lyman from the College of Aviation and Public Services suggested having Torrillo come speak. He will be the first in the speaker series this semester.
Lyman, an on-campus EMT and director of the UVU Emergency Response team, said, “We did some research talking about who we wanted to come and found that we had some ties with firefighters that went back east when it happened.”
Torrillo was a New York City firefighter who responded to the tragedy on Sept. 11. He was in the South Tower and suffered life-threatening injuries, including broken ribs, brain damage and internal bleeding when building collapsed. He was transported to a New Jersey hospital and spent years recovering.
UVUSA will present Torrillo with a plaque. The memorial will also honor local firefighters with yellow ribbons. The first 100 students to attend will be given yellow ribbons to wear in remembrance. Attendees will sing the national anthemand the color guard will be present.
Lyman said one of his goals is for students to gain a greater appreciation for rescue personnel.
“9/11 highlighted what wonderful people we have helping others. We can recognize what they do and how they do it,” Lyman said.
Haskell says she is hoping to fill the theater, but worries that people won’t come because of the Sorensen Student Center north doors being locked for construction. She wants students to feel a sense of patriotism and unity.
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a recent film about a boy whose father died in the World Trade Center, will be shown Monday, the night before the memorial, at 7 p.m in the Grande Ballroom. Students are encouraged to attend the free showing and bring pillows and blankets.
“I want students to remember their country, what makes us great and what pulls us together,” Haskell said. “I still remember the feeling that came over the nation. We came together. I’m really hoping for that to come out again. If we achieve that, it will be a success. We’re really trying to re-spark people’s patriotism.”