Tom Frost found himself back at his daughter Lisa’s high school Friday, handing out a scholarship in her name to a student, who wasn’t even born when Lisa’s plane was the second to slam into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
“That’s a wow,” Frost told City News Service, thinking of how it has been two decades since the 9/11 attacks.
Last year, a student who received a scholarship was born in March 2001, so Friday’s recipient was the first not born when the terrorist attacks occurred in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
“It’s just crazy to think about,” Frost said.
Frost brought along various mementos to Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo on Friday such as his daughter’s United Airlines mileage-plus credit card.
“The ceremony was great,” Frost said. “The kids were absolutely phenomenal. They wanted to know more. They were eager to learn.”
Frost’s daughter was just a bit older than those students when she was killed on United Airlines Flight 175. She was 22 and had graduated from Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration and the College of Communication.
Frost said it remains painful to continue doing interviews about his daughter, and that some anniversaries have been more grueling than others, but he said he wants to continue supporting the scholarships in her name.
“I just try to live with it and try to keep encouraging people to donate to her scholarship funds,” Frost said.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about her and missing her. I think mostly what I’m doing anymore is getting very proud of her again. I was always proud of her but even more so now.”
Frost said a couple of months ago he participated in a fundraiser for the 9/11 Memorial museum and that one of the donations came from Australia, where his daughter served an internship during her junior and senior year in Sydney.
“There’s someone in Australia who still remembers her,” Frost said. “That was so touching. She made an impact wherever she went.”
When a condominium complex in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida collapsed in June, Frost said he got flashbacks.
“It gave me so much grief and I felt so bad for all those families, knowing what they’re going to go through,” Frost said.
The search for survivors and the remains of the dead triggered the feelings he had when his daughter was killed.
“Thankfully, they found DNA matches for my daughter,” he said. “I’d been to the site when it was fresh and still burning and you could smell it. It was the end of October, late October, the 29th or 30th.
“I went to the Empire State Building and you could see a physical plume of smoke coming up, and that was at the end of October. It was incredible. I could never get those images out of my head.”
Frost will participate in the 5K run of the Surf City Marathon Saturday morning in Huntington Beach and then go home “get cleaned up” and head to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda as he does every year to participate in a memorial there. He will read the names of 10 victims, including his daughter’s.
“I see her name scroll across the screen every year and shed a tear,” Frost said. “You don’t ever get over it. You just learn you have to deal with it.”
Other events planned in Orange County for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks include:
— Orange County Fire Authority firefighters commemorating the 9/11 anniversary at their headquarters in Irvine at 8:30 a.m.;
— Christ Cathedral tolling the carillon bells in honor of the victims at the times of the four attacks, starting at 8:46 a.m.;
— And the Nixon Library marking the anniversary with a ceremony that includes 23 tons of wreckage from the towers, which will arrive via motorcade.