These perfect days with the startling blue skies and the whisper of fall should delight us. However, they also evoke a similar day 11 years ago that dawned in beauty and ended in unimagined horror witnessed by the world in real time.
It’s been 11 years since terrorists rammed airliners into the Pentagon in Virginia and into two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing thousands. In what seemed minutes later, a fourth plane slammed into a rural Pennsylvania field when the passengers made the ultimate sacrifice. The death toll for that day is usually given as more than 3,000, but that figure tells only part of the story.
So far, more than 1,000 additional people who were at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon have died from illnesses attributed to the toxic brew of hydrocarbons, asbestos and heavy metals that, particularly in the case of Manhattan, hung in the air for months. Many first responders who rushed to the disaster scenes are suffering severe health problems, including more than 50 types of cancer. In response, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced this week that federal legislation will provide free health monitoring and treatment for the approximately 70,000 surviving firefighters, police and other first responders to the New York and Virginia disasters whose health conditions are certified as related to the tragedy.
The post-9/11 world has brought even more human cost with the death and injury of members of the armed forces of many nations. A decade of war on numerous fronts has exhausted the military, and thousands of our own troops remain in danger around the globe. As we begin to enjoy the singular joys of autumn – of pumpkins, goldenrod flowers and fresh apple cider – may we remember the courage and sacrifice of the people in all kinds of uniforms, some who tried to help strangers that fateful day and others who have kept us safe for the past 11 years.
Members of the Amissville Ruritan Club will continue their tradition of honoring area residents of “a certain age” by hosting their annual Senior Citizens’ Dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Amissville Baptist Church.
Ruritan member Elizabeth Streagle says that all county senior citizens are invited. If you would like to come, please call her as soon as possible at 540-522-9100.
Recently celebrating 50 years of public service, the dozen members of the organization sponsor scholarships and support community activities, such as the county’s Shop With a Deputy program at Christmastime. They also provide “Rudibears” to local fire and rescue companies to comfort children while they are being transported by ambulance to local hospitals.
The Amissville Ruritans are always looking for new members who want to help the community. For more information, call Elizabeth at 540-522-9100.