How did September 11, 2001 Change Your Life?

September 11th, 2001 will be a day that many of us will remember for the rest of our lives. Where we were, who we were with, and how we were impacted. Barbara Behling, Regional Community Development Officer, for the American Red Cross Northeast WI Region shares her story of where she was, who she was with and how that day continues to make an impact in her life.

By: Barbara Behling

On September 11th, I was driving to work like normal…until…The radio stations started announcing a plane-crash. I turned the station as my sister is a flight attendant and always dread such news knowing that families will receive a dreaded call.

 I arrived at my small business employer at the time and the receptionist asked “what do we do?”  “About what?” I inquired. She directed me into our training center with large screen TV where the staff was glued, riveted almost paralyzed by the images of the second tower plummeting to the ground. At the time, our CEO was at a conference in New York.

An hour or so later, I’ll never forget the foreshadowing as a plane was missing. When it went down in field in Pennsylvania, I said to the company founder, “someone on that plane was a hero” He went home to hug the kids. I was still riveted by the TV images. Profound, deep, anguish and helplessness ran through my veins. “What do I do now?” I asked myself.

Our restaurant chain participated in a Day of Caring sponsored by the National & Wisconsin Restaurant Association to raise funds. I felt good – but not enough.

A few months later, I was asked to participate in a photo-op at the American Red Cross – Badger Chapter in Madison, Wisconsin. While there, I stayed for what they call a Disaster Action Team meeting as it sounded interesting. It also tied into my professional role as crisis communicator for my company. What I heard, experienced, felt, was deep, passionate and powerful. Volunteers and staff from around the area were deployed to ground zero, the neighboring New York Chapters and several points in-between. The deep, profound, helplessness ran through my veins again. “I must do more” I said to myself.

 After dozens of classes, hours of volunteer service and both local and national deployments, “I am doing more”. While my words can not convey what Red Cross volunteers experienced first hand, I now have small taste of the sorrow and bittersweet endings through my veins.  As I remember 9/11, it pushed me to do more, be a better neighbor, give of my time, talent and compassion to this amazing country of ours.

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