There was free food, free music, a moment of reflection, and lots and lots of heat.
As temperatures soared into the 90s and the humidity index rose, sweaty students, faculty and staff enjoyed a Welcome Back BBQ during Student Activity period today in the HCC Courtyard. The food was supplied by Aramark, HCC's food service, and the music by the HCC Jazz Ensemble led by music professor and guitarist Bob Ferrier.
"We've got our volunteers out here passing out buns," said Student Activities coordinator Liz Golen.
Given that the annual event coincided with the Sept. 11th anniversary, a 9/11 Memorial was set up in the Upper Courtyard by HCC student veterans and HCC student Lourdes Lebron, whose sister was on board United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked and crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001.
"In doing this, I would like to continue to honor the memory of the almost 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001," said Lebron. "As a family member, it is in my heart the best thing I can do to continue my sister's life."
At 11:30 a.m., everyone in the courtyard was asked to observe 45 seconds of silence in memory of the victims of Sept. 11, which was followed by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
Tables were filled with 9/11 memorabilia Lebron has collected during the past 12 years, including newspapers, books and photographs.
While her goal each year is to remember her sister and the other victims of 9/11, Lebron said she wants people to remember where they were and what they were doing and think about what they can do for others.
"That's what it means to me," she said -- "it's a good day to do something good."
She recalled something President George W. Bush said to her after a screening of the movie about Flight 93, from which she emerged crying.
"No more tears," she said. "It's time to stand up."
Photos: (Left) Students, staff and faculty members fill their plates at the annual Welcome Back BBQ. (Right) HCC student Lourdes Lebron sets up an 9/11 memorial exhibit in the HCC Courtyard. (Thumbnail) A student enjoys a burger at the barbecue.