ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTW) — A Robeson Community College student is spreading words of strength to the community on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11.

The college lowered its flag to half-staff on Monday in remembrance of a day that many remember even years later.

“Very solemn environment, it was just something that I’ll never forget,” said Johnny Smith, the vice president of Instruction and Student Support Services at Robeson Community College.

Faculty and students at RCC gathered on Monday to honor the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 attacks.

As the sound of the first responders last call echoed through the campus, memories from that day resurfaced as well.

“I was at another community college and I was in the lobby and I was watching TV as I was passing through the lobby,” Smith said. “I saw the planes hit and I thought ‘what in the world is going on?'”

Melissa Singler, the president of RCC, said she also remembers the day vividly, though that’s not the case for all of the college’s students.

“Many of our students weren’t even born yet,” Singler said. “We have a duty to let them know what happened, how it changed the world, and how we can prevent this from happening hopefully in the future.”

Some of that duty paid off on Monday. One student, Grace Anne Burnette, read a poem she wrote commemorating 9/11.

“For in the face of adversity’s chill, we’ll remember, we’ll rebuild. 9/11, the day America stood still. A testament to the strength that we wield,” Burnette wrote.

Her work won first place in the college’s 9/11 poetry writing contest.

“We have our students to reflect and to be able to utilize something of a tragedy and a travesty like 9/11 and then turn it around and put it into an assignment and make something positive of it, I think is huge,” Smith said.

The college holds the event each year on 9/11.

* * *

Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on Twitter and read more of her work here.