“Never before in the Army’s history of disaster relief have so many been called up for duty. Never before have we been called to do so much more than to give a cold drink or a hot meal. This was a new day for The Salvation Army.” -From “Compassion Under Fire Responding to September 11, 2011”
Today marks 11 years since the tragedy we somberly refer to as simply September 11. Although it has been 11 years, many of us remember the day as if it were just yesterday. As a nation and even a world, we mourn for those who were lost, and we never forget.
The Salvation Army was the first relief agency to reach Ground Zero on the morning of September 11, 2001 — reporting within a half-hour following the first plane crash at the World Trade Center site. Thirty-nine thousand Salvation Army officers, volunteers and staff provided assistance at that time. That assistance came in many forms ranging from physical labor to emotional and spiritual support.
We stayed at Ground Zero and served relief workers for nine months as part of a program called Operation Compassion Under Fire. The Army served 3.2 million meals in those months.
The Indiana Division sent a few volunteers of its own, including Jo Ann Remender, Director of Planned Giving. When she arrived in January of 2002, she wasn’t sure what to expect or what role she would play in history. Remender never went to Ground Zero, instead, she was assigned the duty of chaplain.
“I was stationed in the morgue. It’s hard to figure out exactly how to talk about it now,” she said. “I was giving support to medical staff, the examiner’s office, police and fire as they brought the remains in.”
The emotional toll of the event that happened 11 years ago still shows across Remender’s face when she remembers her role in the aftermath of September 11.
As we all stop and remember the events surrounding September 11, 2001, The Salvation Army would like to extend our deepest regard for those our nation lost, their families and friends.