All those years ago ...

Posted 9/9/21

By BROOKE LAWRENCE All those years ago . my teammates and I played a small part in responding to our nation's darkest hour. We were deployed to Manhattan to provide field hospitals at various points around "the pile." Although we all have many, many

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All those years ago ...


All those years ago … my teammates and I played a small part in responding to our nation’s darkest hour.

We were deployed to Manhattan to provide field hospitals at various points around “the pile.” Although we all have many, many stories. I want to share just one with you today.

It’s about pride. Pride in our country, pride in our diverse culture, pride in our ability to make things – great things – pride in how the world viewed the United States, pride in the fact that no matter what, America was going to do the right thing for the right reasons. We stood our ground, not because we were bullies, but because we protected those who could not protect themselves.

Our flag stood for something. It was a symbol of hope and prosperity. A symbol for truth and justice.

I remember driving into work for my first shift at Ground Zero. It was in the late afternoon. The team was first headed to our staging area at the Manhattan Community College to receive work assignments and do our command shift change. I was leading Bravo Team, while my dad, Tom Lawrence, was leading Alpha Team. Each team had around 35 highly trained and motivated professionals ready to help.

This is something we would do again during the responses to hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Sandy. As we drove down the West Side Highway towards Ground Zero, I remember feeling a little anxious, as I looked out the window.

I could see the smoke coming from the rubble pile in the distance. That feeling was quickly replaced by an overwhelming sense of pride.

Pride in our nation, standing as one!

You see, out the front windshield was our darkest hour … but out the side windows of our vehicle was hope.

Standing 8-10 deep, like you would see at a Fourth of July parade, were everyday Americans. They were not Black, White, Asian, or Hispanic, they were Americans. They were standing as one cheering for us. They were holding signs and waiving the American flag.

I’ve never seen so many flags. This went on block after block all the way to the perimeter checkpoint. So much pride in what America is about.

I wanted to get each member of our teams an American flag sticker for their helmets. However, I couldn’t buy anything with an American flag on it in Manhattan, let alone a sticker. It simply couldn’t be done! I called to friends back home looking for help. If it had an American flag on it, it was not available. It was like that all across the country.

I called JT Dunn, one of my friends and customers, and he had nothing. However, JT printed us American flags on adhesive label paper, using an ink jet printer, and somehow he got them to us. We used IV tegaderms to keep them from running when it rained, but we had our flags and could show our pride. I still have that helmet with the flag stuck to it, showing my pride and its here today.

The 9/11 terrorists attacked the American Way. They attacked our values. They attacked our pride. In the days following the attack, as a nation, we stood as one.

Whether it was me and my teammates working to provide medical care at Ground Zero, or the Americans lining the streets holding signs and waving flags, or JT Dunn for going above and beyond to make something happen.

It was the little boy on the street in Manhattan who asked for my autograph … because first responders were his “superheroes.”

We all stood as one. We checked on our neighbors, we smiled at one another, we talked to one another. We were united.

We were united as one nation.

So I ask you today … why did we all sit back down?

How did we forget to stand as one, united in doing what is right for each other?

Please, take a minute to ponder that simple question. Today I would ask you to reflect on that question. Then take action to do something that will make a difference in other people’s lives. Maybe it’s as simple as smiling and saying good afternoon to people you encounter leaving here today, or it can be a larger act, but that is for you to decide.

In closing I ask you please share this story with your friends and family because I believe that we need to stand as one … once again.


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