Villanova Prep to hold 9/11 memorial event Sept. 13

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Ojai Valley News photo by Holly Roberts

Emily Brock continues the family tradition of honoring those who died on 9/11, drilling a hole for flags at Villanova on Sept. 9.

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News senior reporter

A memorial event to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks is set for Monday, Sept. 13, at 8:05 a.m. at Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai.

A public ceremony is planned on the school’s softball field, where students and faculty placed 2,977 American flags Sept. 9 to remember each person who died in the attacks two decades ago.

“With this being the 20th anniversary, it’s important for us not to forget the people that perished on that day,” said Villanova senior and event organizer Emily Brock. “A lot of families were torn apart that day.”

In 2014, Emily’s sister, Madeline, began what has become an annual event at the school. When Madeline graduated, brother Cameron carried the torch before handing it off to Emily.

Fr. Barnaby Johns, director of mission at Villanova, has been helping the school and the Brock family organize the ceremony marking the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “So many of us lived through that experience and the trauma that occurred, and the impact that’s still being felt today,” Johns said.

Along with the nearly 3,000 flags donated by Emily’s grandparents at Wachter’s Hay & Grain in Ojai, the event will include a speech by Brock, the National Anthem performed by a Villanova student, and a moment of silence.

Since students currently attending Villanova weren’t yet born when the events of 9/11 happened, the ceremony will also serve as a teachable moment, according to Johns, “trying to educate them about the evil of terrorism and the tragic loss of life that occurred on that day,” he said.

Getting the word out around campus about the need for volunteers, Brock organized approximately two-dozen students and faculty to help plant the flags.

Using cordless electric drills to make holes in the ground for the flag posts, the entire process nowadays takes about 90 minutes, said Brock.

But she remembers helping Madeline back when screwdrivers were used to make the holes. “That took a long time,” she said. “We have it down to a science now.”

The flags will remain in place until Sept. 15, according to Johns.

Along with first responders and civilians who lost their lives on 9/11, the ceremony at Villanova also honors local firefighters, so lunch will be delivered Monday to the four Ventura County Fire Department stations in the Ojai Valley.

As he does each year, Emily’s father, Matt Brock, battalion chief with the Ventura City Fire Department, will be on hand for the 9/11 memorial event.

After she graduates next spring, Emily said she is looking forward to college and pursuing a career in education. “I want to be an elementary school teacher,” she said.

But next year will mark the end of the Brock family’s involvement in Villanova’s 9/11 observance, so the school’s campus ministry may take over organizing the event. Or, perhaps a student wanting to take on the responsibility will step forward. “It’s super important and I hope it will continue on,” Brock said. 


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