I had intended to do a post today about the three months I volunteered for the American Red Cross and Salvation Army at Ground Zero following the World Trade Center attacks. But I have waffled all around the emotional map today, from sadness and remembrance to annoyance and anger and back again, partly due to some of the television coverage, partly due to some of the politicians’ speeches, and partly due to unpacking a box I had sealed up long ago and stuck in the back of a closet to await this 10th anniversary.
Ultimately, my experiences of 9/11 were much the same as everyone else’s because even though the burning towers could be seen from the corner of my block in Brooklyn, I chose to stay glued to the television and phone for most of the day, watching the horror unfold as the tower dust drifted throughout the city and across the river to my own door.
It wasn’t until 9/12 that all my pent-up anxiety and anger and patriotism and desperation culminated in a frantic search to find some way to contribute to the rescue and clean-up efforts. So maybe I’ll get that tale out tomorrow on that anniversary.
For today, here’s a couple photos of small items left from my time spent at Ground Zero: my Red Cross and Salvation Army volunteer vests; a couple of my ground zero access badges and the hardhat I had to wear (such an attractive fashion accessory but so nice that many of the guys working on—and around—the pile with whom I had became friends ended up signing it on the night the Red Cross closed the last respite center); and many of the pins that everyone handed out and traded (including a few “jewelry” items from some firefighter and police uniforms, and pins from the Secret Service and Red Cross workers from around North America).
My heart goes out to all those that were lost on that tragic day and those that they left behind to carry on their legacies. My hand goes out to all those that put in so much blood, sweat and tears in trying to find anyone to rescue—and then continued on and cleaned the place up in record time, all with aching hearts and blistered hands and feet.
America is a country worth saving, worth fighting for.
Update: The photos are clickable to enlarge them if you would like a closer look at some of the items.