How a president's visit and 9-11 changed a boy's life

5:09 AM, Sep 10, 2011   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida -- Ten years ago, a class of second graders began the morning of September 11th reading to the president. 10 News Reporter Isabel Mascarenas and Photojournalist Gene Yagle were at the school that day covering the his visit.  A year later, they spoke to three of those students for the first anniversary of 9-11.

Today, they sit down again with one of the students to hear how this day in American history helped shape his young life then and now.

"My name is Lazaro Dubrocq. I'm 8 years old."

That's how the boy who met the president a year earlier started the interview.

"I like to laugh a lot a lot," said Lazaro.  A young boy's innocence is marked by a moment in history.  "I will remember the day the president came to my school."

The day was September 11, 2001. Sarasota second graders at Booker Elementary had a front row seat to history in the making.  "Someone came and whispered in his ear. He sat back," recalled a young Lazaro.

Today, an older, taller and deep-voiced 17-year-old finishes the memory of that day. "He seemed completely disconcerted and worried and a little anxious and he was looking around at the cameras and the lights."

Ten years later, Lazaro is an athlete, a wrestler at Riverview High School in Sarasota. The memories of September 11th are clear.  "A full-blown terrorist attack that caused the lives of thousands of Americans."

It's a day he will never forget thanks to a president's gift.  "I'm constantly reminded of the day, when I open the refrigerator and I see the box of M&M candies the president gave each of the students."

That carefree, happy little boy is now a serious, disciplined young man. 'I'm a straight A student. I strive to achieve the best I possibly can. I do believe, maybe, my seriousness stems from 9-11," says Lazaro.

He describes the day as one of mixed emotions. "It went from happiness, shock and disbelief to not necessarily terror, but confusion and paranoia."

It's a fear that lives in him today. He says, "I think there's always going to be that sense of fear and paranoia that someday there might be another attack."

Also alive are the lessons learned, lessons similar to the ones he recounted nine years ago. "Well, not to steal, not to destroy, to be nice," says the then 8-year-old Lazaro.

The teenager is impressed by his answer. "I think that was very insightful for me to say at such a young age and I think holds true to this day."

He says today the lessons runs a little deeper. "It taught to me to be a good, honest person, disciplined, always hard working, and to be kind to others."

For Lazaro, the memories of September 11th will never be forgotten. "One day when I have children, I'm going to talk to them about 9-11. I'm going to remind them how humanity can commit such acts of evil and how they can be a better person."

Lazaro wants his children to always be proud to be an American, but respect others. He says, "To have a sense of pride of being an American, but to also be open-minded of other religions and cultures around the world."

But the story of that day 10 years ago will start out like this: "One day, the president came to my class. We read to him. He shook some of our hands. Someone whispered in his ear," says the 8-year-old boy echoed by the teenager today.

The high school senior says he knows his role in history. "It's my job as an American to cherish the moments I had with the president, but also to remember the tragic events that happened on that day."

Lazaro plans to attend Columbia University and become a chemical engineer.

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