Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections on 9/11

The WNY Families of Sept 11 annual flag tribute
I arrived at our Clement Mansion headquarters on Delaware Avenue at 5:30 this morning to see that live trucks from all four local television stations were already here. I was meeting Cynthia Blest from the Western New York Families of September 11 to talk with the media about the beautiful tribute the families place in the lawn ever year, with a flag representing each of the nearly 3,000 lives lost on this date in 2001. It's impossible to see this moving display and not pause to reflect, and this year I started thinking about what 9/11 means to me now that I am a Red Crosser.

Honoring those with WNY connections lost on 9/11
Since all air travel was shut down following the attacks, it was volunteers from Western New York that hopped in their cars and were among the first to arrive at Ground Zero to begin the massive relief efforts. Really, those efforts continue 12 years later as Tara and Sr. Martha, volunteers from our Disaster Mental Health team still meet with the support group for Cynthia and other Western New York families who lost loved ones on 9/11, and we're proud to partner with these amazing people for this incredible tribute every year.

A little later, I represented the Red Cross at Hoover Elementary School's "Read with a Hero" day. I am absolutely not a hero, but I was humbled to stand alongside the real heroes--members of our military with multiple overseas deployments, police and first responders, doctors and nurses. The fact that we are asked to be a part of this event shows how important the work of the Red Cross is and how heroic the efforts of our volunteers really are.
Hoover Elementary School's "Read with a Hero" day gets
underway with an assembly filled with the singing of patriotic songs
and a history lesson for the students

Something else struck me at that assembly. The principal, Mrs. Paskowitz, pointed out that on September 11, 2001, not one of the students in that auditorium had even been born yet. It's so important that as we reflect, we also talk to our kids about what happened and the heroes who risked their lives to help. That's why I was proud to be able to surprise my son Jackson and tell his second grade class a little about the Red Cross heroes who helped 12 years ago and how we're helping our neighbors in need today.