A Somber Salute to The Givers

My wise father always has always said that there are two types of people in this world: there are givers, and there are takers. In light of the tremendous storm that has shaken the core of our country, as well as the stability of our fellow citizens of the world in the Caribbean and in Canada, I would like to dedicate today’s post to the men and women serving as emergency responders throughout the east coast. They are, without a doubt, givers.

The images that have inundated our media channels, our Twitter accounts and our newsfeeds are astounding. For me, the horror and surrealism encapsulated is eerily reminiscent of the images that stemmed from the horrific events of September 11, 2001. As a seventh grade student hungry for news, and as a girl whose father was working in the heart of Manhattan that day, I vividly remember the fear and, perhaps most intensely, the images.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram had not yet been invented. iPhones were unheard of. And, at age 13, I did not own a cell phone. In spite of these defining differences that separate yesterday’s storm from that unspeakable day, the photographs served as my primary source of information, just as they did yesterday.

I remember finding an issue of TIME Magazine on my sister’s coffee table in the suburbs of Chicago, days, weeks or months after the attacks took place (my memories from that time period seem to be suspended in a hazy fog that distorts time and, to a certain extent, my emotional memory). This particular issue was dedicated to a series of photographs taken on and after September 11, and it included the prominently used image of the Falling Man; an image that haunts me to this day.

But surrounding this image, the issue also offered innumerable images of heroism and hope. It painted a picture of human connection, selfless support and a collective dedication to recovery. The images proved our resiliency, just as much as they proved the factuality of the tragedy. The common thread that bound these ineffably touching photographs were, and still are, the men and women who are frozen in time as caregivers, rescuers and consolers. They are the people who encouraged (and allowed) us to rise together as a nation to mourn those we lost, support the families who needed reinforcements and welcome home those who had survived.

People still say it: those folks were heroes. Well, they still are heroes, and they remain so on a daily basis. So I write this post today in an effort to thank our service members, our firefighters, our paramedics, our doctors, our nurses, our police officers and our volunteers. You make our world better and you make our nation stronger. And, as always, thank you for reading.

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