Tribune-Courier News Editor
Our country is coming up on a familiar and, for many, painful date. Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack.
It means something different to each one of us. For some, it was knowing friends or family injured or killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center in Washington, D.C., or in Pennsylvania. For others, it might have involved saying goodbye to one of the thousands of troops that went overseas in the months and years that followed.
For me, it’s a hard date to forget for a slightly different reason. The day of the attack was the day before I started working at a newspaper. In the months that followed I knew people involved in the operations in Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002.
Here at home, while many of us wondered what was going to happen half a world away, I saw a different side of things. One of the first stories I did as a reporter was to speak with a person from our area who had gone to New York to help. He didn’t have any special training, he hadn’t previously been a part of any of the volunteer groups that normally respond to disasters. He was just an average guy who heard about a group that was going and asked if they needed an extra hand.
He spent his time in New York like a lot of volunteers– sleeping when there was time in a motor home and working in a support role most of the time. If memory serves me right (which it may not– a decade seems a lot fuzzier when you’re at the end of it) he washed dishes for a mobile kitchen set up to feed rescue workers.
We heard more and more about volunteers from our area and beyond as the weeks passed. Of people taking vacation time from work, of donating vacation time to fellow coworkers making the trip. We heard about relief groups heading up with every piece of equipment they had. And there were hundreds of churches, civic groups and businesses across western Kentucky that collected everything from food to clothes to electronic goods for survivors and workers.
Even with retrospect being a bit out of focus, those are the stories that I remember.
The years that followed had some rocky times. From invading Iraq to the collapse on Wall Street, Hurricane Katrina to the shootings at Virginia Tech. In many of the events that shaped the last decade, volunteers from our area were there in one way or another, either directly lending a hand or indirectly lending support through collections.
That’s part of what makes this area what it is. Thankfully, many of us don’t have to live in fear of being the possible target of a terrorist attack or a hurricane or many of the other events over the last decade. But we donate our abilities, time and resources just the same.
Hopefully, while we reflect on events a decade ago, we can look forward to a more peaceful time.