Friday, August 12, 2016

As I pause to reflect and remember where I was on September 11th, colors come to my mind: the beautiful and powerful red white and blue! I remember seeing our flags flying everywhere, reminding me of our freedom and our one common thread.… Patriotism.  Somehow, flying those flags was our way of showing we were together, a unified country, as if it could to help take our pain and suffering away. Though it was fifteen years ago, we can still easily recall our very own memories of where we were on that dreadful day. Each of our memories share their own place in our hearts and minds.

I have my memory/story that I would like to share with you:

I was living in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where my husband, Gary, was commanding Womack Army Medical Center. Just as you, I was glued to the television, but in the pit of my stomach l felt the urge to do more. So I increased my volunteer efforts at our local Red Cross by answering phones. This helped somewhat, but I knew this was not enough. To make a long story shorter, I began taking classes in American Red Cross Disaster Services. I am a Registered Nurse and they found a good fit for me in that field. Two weeks later, my training and paperwork were complete and I was on a flight for New York City.

I was asked if I wanted to volunteer my time at Ground Zero in one of their First Aid stations, and without trepidation, I said yes. This decision would change my life! Thousands of volunteers came to help from everywhere around this country, and world. The outpouring of patriotism was overwhelmingly strong. We were there to answer the call of help, and we did so without looking back.

For six and a half weeks my job was to give first aid to the recovery workers. (FDNY, NYPD, FEMA, OSHA, ironworkers, engineers, heavy machine operators, asbestos workers, carpenters, pipe fitters, electricians, volunteers and the list goes on). As you remember, the fires on the “pile” burned for months, 99 days to be exact, therefore there were many eye injuries, sore throats and the dreaded WTC cough, not to mention more serious issues that needed emergency care.  The stories I heard, the sadness and devastation I saw, the people I met, will be with me for a lifetime, I will never forget them. When it was my time to return home, I did so, but with sadness and heaviness in my heart. I felt the pull of New York City, but the time had come to begin the next chapter of my life.

Here we are, fifteen years later, and life keeps offering us many more memories. I ask you for this month, to please step back and reflect, fly your flag, remember your patriotism, and NEVER FORGET.

Jane H Davis

Author and Speaker of “First Aid for Heroes”