Don and Marilyn Renwick of Sun City Center were among the few attendees at Community Hall for this year's observance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, events which occurred more than a decade ago. For the Renwicks, it was a time to reflect on their blessings as a family.
"We could have lost our son-in-law because his offices were in the twin towers, but his boss the day before asked him to teach a class in New Jersey," Marilyn Renwick said. "We are blessed. My daughter worked in the hospital and her office overlooked the towers. She watched people jump out of windows."
Uta Kuhn, the president of the Patriots Club of Sun City Center, said it was the third year the club sponsored the Sept. 11 event, but participation has dwindled.
"I think, to me, it's a sad scenario people are forgetting," Kuhn said. "The attendance is lower than usual. We should never forget what happened. If you forget what happened, you may re-live history. We are still fighting this battle on terrorism even as we speak."
Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham was the guest speaker for the event. He said he just returned from a trip to California's White Mountains, which face the Sierra Nevada. There, he climbed a 14,250 feet summit after 20 months of training.
"It is important we understand our history both good and bad, happy and sad," Higginbotham said. "Whether it's a handful or a roomful, we can't change our past. Like with me, I can't change the day I suffered a spinal injury. I'll always walk with crutches and braces, but that didn't mean I haven't found a way to heal and climb new mountains."
Don and Helen Schuster of Sun City Center said they attended the event out of respect for the people who risked their lives as well as those who died in the twin towers, the Pentagon and on the hijacked flights.
Helen Schuster said she was waiting to get a checkup when she saw the news.
"We didn't know what was true or not," she said.
Don Renwick, the vice president of the Patriot Club of SCC, said he was more than a little disappointed by the turnout.
"It's a disgrace," he said. "As the years have gone by more and more people have forgotten. We used to get over 300 people. Today it was a handful."
The Sept. 11 attacks were a series of coordinated suicide attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., in which airplanes were hijacked and used as weapons by members of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, including all persons aboard the planes.