America changed that day

Just two weeks before Sept. 11, 2001, our family had been vacationing in downtown Manhattan. We never imagined what would eventually take place right where we stood.

It seems like only yesterday; every one of us can remember where we were that moment the attacks took place. Our eyes were fixed on the news stations while our hearts pounded, wondering what would happen next as the day unfolded.

Within minutes, Salvation Army officers, cadets, and employees were there to bring assistance and aid to the people. Little did they know that the place in which they responded would become their temporary home as they tirelessly worked around the clock.

That day, America changed.

Churches were full, families were together, and people searched for answers. They looked to God and asked, “How could something like this happen?”

During the second week following the attacks, the Northeast Ohio Division (NEOSA) of The Salvation Army responded by assembling a team of 24 people, including officers, soldiers, employees, advisory board members, and volunteers to serve at Ground Zero.

Over the next 10 days, this team provided spiritual care and met the physical needs at many stations within the Ground Zero area. Some worked with families, others did mass feeding and supplies, while others provided emotional and spiritual care at the makeshift morgue.

As each day passed, the debris, the broken buildings, and the tears reminded us that life is fragile and we must always cherish each moment we have with people we love.

Every time a person’s remains were discovered at Ground Zero, there was a solemn moment when everything stopped in reverence and honor for that person and their family. Workers covered the body with the American flag and removed it from the debris. This happened many times each day.

During those 10 days we were there, our hearts broke for those families.

For the next year, NEOSA continued to send teams to help with the ongoing work at Ground Zero. We were determined to stay at the scene until all was finished, regardless of how long that might take.

On this anniversary, we are grateful to God for His healing and His special care through every step of the way. We continue to pray for those families, for the rescue workers, and for continued protection over our country.

We thank the Lord for the many volunteers and donors who responded to this great need, and we salute you on this day.

God bless America!

—by Major Thomas L. Hinzman, corps officer in Spring Valley, N.Y., and the Rockland County area coordinator for The Salvation Army



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