Friday, September 11, 2015

"I never truly stopped to think about what they mean...That is until this morning"

As it often does, my day began with a check of social media this morning. I saw a picture and a quote from my friend and colleague, Volunteer Specialist Nicole Roma:

"For the past 4 years, I've seen these flags as I walk into work, one for each of those who lost their lives on 9/11. But I've never truly stopped to think about what they mean to WNYers as they pass by the Red Cross... That is until this morning."

I took this photo as soon as I arrived at the WNY Chapter Headquarters this morning.
Nicole's version included people who had just stopped to reflect on the day.
The flags have been out since the Western New York Families of September 11 set up their moving tribute on Sunday morning. For me, this solemn anniversary is always one of the days that makes me most proud to be a small part of this organization. 

On September 11, 2001, I was still in media, working evenings. My wife woke me up with a phone call and asked me to record CNN. When I staggered to the living room and turned on the TV, I couldn't comprehend what I was seeing. In the days and weeks that followed, that feeling didn't change much. My way of helping, and coping, was a small donation to one of the organizations helping amidst the chaos and sorrow: The American Red Cross.

In my five years with the organization, I have met so many amazing volunteers who did so much to help in those dark days, from my fellow communicators across the country to local volunteers like Peggy McGee-Smith, who spent weeks in and around Ground Zero, doing whatever they could to help. 

But what makes this display truly meaningful to me is that it represents the fact this organization is still helping, 14 years after this unthinkable tragedy. We continue to support the WNY Families of September 11, and it is my honor to work with these incredible people in my small way each year to remember the lives lost on that tragic day. The Greater Rochester Chapter will be represented at a Patriot Day celebration in Henrietta this evening, and there are tributes happening across the Region and the country.

Whether you attend a memorial, give blood in honor of the lives lost, or simply reflect in your own, personal way, take a moment to think about what today means to you, and remember everyone who came together to help in our time of need. #NeverForget

-Jay Bonafede, Chief Communications Officer
 American Red Cross, Western and Central NY Region