DECATUR — Heroes can be made right in our own backyard.
The event, set up in the parking lot of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church on West Decatur Street, was designed to encourage the community to donate blood during a time of remembrance.
“It’s been 20 years of 9/11,” said Kathy Walters, program coordinator for Dove. “We as well have two people that actually did service at 9/11.”
Blue Mound resident Amy Patient and Roger Troxel from Bloomington swapped stories about their experiences while waiting for donors to stop by on Friday. Both Illinois residents traveled to New York City after the September 11 attacks to provide services needed during the tragic time 20 years ago.
According to Walters, the Dove’s senior programs host an annual Day of Service. Local heroes were invited to this year’s event, including Macon County sheriff’s deputies, Decatur police officers, and representatives from the Decatur Ambulance Service.
“We’re here to thank them for their service as well,” Walters said.
Donors were given the opportunity to give blood and speak with the first responders and volunteers.
Twenty years ago, Troxel was a member of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois. As an honor guard, he had a special mission during that time.
“That’s what we do. We train for funerals,” he said.
The New York City ceremonies included bagpipes and drums. The experience encouraged Troxel to learn how to play bagpipes, which he brought to Friday’s blood drive. Throughout the event, he performed for volunteers and donors.
For her work during the 9/11 aftermath, Patient volunteered for the Red Cross handing out money to New York residents surrounding Ground Zero.
“People lost their homes, they lost their places to live, their jobs,” she said.
The Red Cross donations were given for rent, groceries, internet and other utilities. “We made sure they could live comfortably,” Patient said. “We went door to door to make sure their needs were met.”
The area consisted of a 12-mile area that makes up Manhattan, according to Patient.
“It impacted pretty much everybody there,” she said.
Patient also assisted serving meals, organizing a shelter, hosting therapy dog sessions, and planning funerals. People from other countries were also affected by the disaster, including Brazil, Colombia, Chile, China and Argentina. Patient assisted with their families’ care as well.
Throughout the years, the volunteers often attend events similar to Dove’s blood drive ready to talk about their experiences.
“September 11 is hard to remember,” Patient said. “But September 12 is what people need to remember.”
The country united after the attacks 20 years ago, according to Patient.
“We didn’t know color, we didn't know politics, we didn’t know one country from another,” she said. “We knew our world hurt. We cared about everybody. Unfortunately that’s what brings us together.”
🔎 FROM THE ARCHIVES: 9/11 historical clippings
Attack on America
Rescue efforts begin
NATO allies: Terrorist attacks on U.S. can be considered attack on whole alliance
More than 4,700 said missing
Bennett school children plant flags in remembrance of terrorist attack victims
White House raises nation's terror alert
Marking 9/11 with tears, love
Bush urges United Nations to act
9/11 inspires improved communication
9/11 and five years
Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR