SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sept. 11, 2001, was setting up to be a day that students at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida would never forget. The President was coming to their school. But in a whisper, his visit was cut short and innocence lost.
The second graders had no way of knowing they were about to become part of history. Lazarus Dubrocq was just seven-years-old when he met President George W. Bush. He says, the Commander in Chief came to his reading class.
“Before we started reading to him, we actually had a conversation with him,” said Dubrocq. He says, President Bush was in a good mood talking about his daughters and his two dogs at the White House.
Dubrocq, now an engineer living in Texas, describes a change in the room after the President’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card whispered in the President’s ear.
“We were reading along and in the middle of our reading session, it was Mr. Card who came in through the side and ended up notifying the President of the attack,” said Dubrocq.
It was a Tuesday morning. Terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and attempted to crash a plane into the White House. Dubrocq says the teachers did their best to shield the students from the information that began to disrupt the reading class. President Bush also did his best to protect the students from the media who began asking questions.
“Mr. President are you aware of the report of a plane crash in New York,” asked one reporter. “We’ll talk about that later,” answered President Bush.
Even as a boy Lazarus sensed the gravity of the situation. He wondered if his school be next.
“The president was at our school, right? So, what better target than where the President was at,“ said Dubrocq.
Minutes later, the President was on television.
“Ladies and Gentlemen this is a difficult moment for America. I, unfortunately, will be going back to Washington after my remarks,” said President Bush.
Lazarus says it took time to comprehend what happened. He remembers his young self, his happy routine going to and from school, until Sept. 11 when his innocence was shattered.
“For most of my daily life, that was my world. And then that one day comes in and you are made aware. Not only is America possibly being dragged into a war. It’s a war on our soil. And that is hard to fully comprehend as a child at the age of seven but more appreciated as you become older,” said Dubrocq.
Every year, on the anniversary of the attacks Lazarus Dubrocq reflects on that horrific day. 20-years later he knows it has forever changed him. He hopes for the better. Dubrocq said he doesn’t feel proud to be part of a day that ended the lives of thousands of Americans.
“But I can take away lessons. Even if it’s the slightest silver lining to that day. What can I do for myself to improve the lives of those around me and the lives of those I care about,” Dubrocq said.