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The Generosity of AmericansThe Generosity of Americans
by Janice Price

    I, too, was shocked and horrified at the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Tuesday morning. I could not shake an aching sadness for those who were hostages on the four hijacked planes and who knew for some period of time that they were going to die. And for those on the top floors of the towers — the ones who survived the crash and knew they would not be able to escape the smoke and fire.

    I feel sad for all those who lost loved ones. Until the bodies are recovered they can not even have closure and properly grieve. Those in search and rescue have courage far beyond mine.

    I keep hearing the word “evil” associated with this act of terrorism. It seems to be an apt description. How can one human or nation or religion do this to another?

    It was last night before I could begin to think of the event in terms of positives that are arising from this. The word “prayer” is suddenly “legal” again in government. I hope this is permanent. Since President Bush declared September 14 a National Day of Prayer, at noon the Emergency Medical Service and the Red Cross (who share the same building) here in Thomaston, Georgia gathered outside around the flagpole for a few minutes of silence and prayer.

    We are flag-waving Americans again. I hope this unites us, but I hope we don’t confuse patriotism with God’s protection and blessings.

    Today (Friday, September 14th) was my first chance to see, personally, the generosity of Americans in action. I was told people were coming in to the Red Cross office to drop off contributions and that it would be hectic. Hectic was an understatement. Because today it was announced on the radio that the Red Cross would be selling T-shirts as a local fundraiser. Everything was arranged with some local banks and stores that would sell them. However, the phone was ringing before the shirts could even be finished.

    On the left sleeve of the white shirt is the red symbol and “American Red Cross”. Underneath is the motto, “Together, we can save a life.”

    On the front is the American flag, surrounded by a circle of blue stars. Directly underneath:

In Their Honor
American Heroes
September 11, 2001

    Banks were calling, “Where are the shirts? We have customers waiting for them.” People were coming in to the office. Where are the shirts? I am here to pick up 1, 2, 14 ....

    Businesses were calling: “We need 10, 20, 40.” For individuals. For offices. For companies. As fast as they were finished, they were being delivered and the phone was ringing again that they were sold out. The office only got a couple of Small and a pile of XLarge. Medium-sized folks were buying XLarge. If I didn’t have enough change, they would wave it away.

    A hot, thirsty volunteer crew was working at another location to finish a second batch of shirts. At one point I was told to call Big Chic and ask if they would like to donate several large iced teas to that crew. The manager chuckled and said, “Sure.”

    People were calling or coming into the office and asking to volunteer. “I’m a nurse. I’d like to sell t-shirts for you...” “I... we... the school... the church... the company would like to collect money for you.”

    People were dropping off checks. A few dollars. A few hundred dollars. Even though the immediate need for blood is over, people were calling, wanting to know when is the next drive.

    A man with three search and rescue dogs called, trying to find a number where someone could tell him whether his services could be used. If so, he would load one dog and drive to New York.

    It was a long day, but when I left after 5:00 people were still pouring into the office. Tomorrow morning from 7 to 10 a.m. the local radio station will broadcast live from the Red Cross lawn.

    This is just one Red Cross office, which covers two small counties in Georgia. The unemployment rate here is very high because the mills have been closing. This is not a wealthy area. Yet the response is staggering. Everyone wants to contribute something.

    May God continue to bless us with an attitude of unity, generosity and hope, even as we grieve together.

      © 2001 Janice Price. Used by permission.

      Title: "The Generosity of Americans"
      Author: Janice Price
      Publication Date: September 26, 2001

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