Captain Bryan reflects back on 9/11 Attack Relief Efforts

Oct 4, 2020

On September 11, 2001, our nation watched in horror as the tragedy of that day unfolded before our eyes. Attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a downed plane in Shanksville, PA, reminded us of the evil that exists in our world. We saw darkness fall upon so many families and individuals. As a member of The Salvation Army, I have been given the opportunity to be a part of our response in two of those locations.

The last week of September in 2001, I spent time in New York City serving those at Ground Zero. I can still picture the sight and remember the smell that was in the air. For four nights, we worked the 6:00-12:00 a.m. shift, serving those who were in the fight. I remember the stories of the brave NYPD and NYFD who were looking for survivors and some of their own brothers. I can recall the story of the young lady about my age at the time who would have been in the plaza, on her way to college classes when the planes hit, but only missed it because her alarm clock didn’t go off that morning. For those hours, we were offering food, water and a listening ear. Fellow Salvation Army personnel worked at the morgue, helping people identify loved ones; some were the hands and feet of Jesus as they took off burned boots and socks and equipped those who continued in the fight.

In another assignment—Greensburg, PA—our disaster services canteen was the first on the scene in Shanksville. I heard stories from the volunteers that served who were told they would be there for the duration of the event—and they were. They were there when families were taken to the scene to see the final resting place of their loved ones. It was a tremendous honor when the Flight 91 memorial was dedicated and our whole team was invited back to recognize the role they had played in serving those families and rescue workers at the scene.

As I look back on 9/11, I’m reminded of Romans 12:21, which tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” That message was true on that day and it is still true today. Let us remember those who lost their lives that day by continuing to fight for good and in doing so, overcome evil.

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