Saturday, September 09, 2006

All gave some. Some gave all.

On behalf of everyone who has ever given even an hour of time pro bono publico, I salute the memory of the heroic public servants who died five years ago on September 11, 2001. If there were a pro bono Hall of Fame, it would stand at Ground Zero with tributes to each of these men and women at the entrance. The story below is but one of many.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tour guide Ann Van Hine is rewarded with tears, not tips, and frequently reduces visitors to an awed silence when she tells them how her husband, a firefighter, died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

"Sometimes I feel bad because I look at people's faces as I'm telling my story and it's like I've just blown them away," Van Hine said after leading 25 tourists from as far afield as Italy and Australia on a tour around the perimeter of the gaping hole known as Ground Zero. She says younger visitors often chat freely with her before the tour, but afterwards, "They don't know what to say to me."

As she is about to climb a steep flight of stairs to a walkway over the highway west of the site, Van Hine asks visitors to imagine climbing stairs loaded up with firefighting equipment. "The firefighters got up to about the 70th floor, so it would have been like doing what we're doing 35 times."

She and her husband, Richard Bruce Van Hine, had two daughters aged 14 and 17 at the time of the attacks that killed 2,992 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. "Ten days after, I asked my girls where they thought Daddy was and they said they thought Daddy was in heaven," she said, adding that she visited Ground Zero on September 28, 2001.

If you see a firefighter, police officer, or emergency worker this Monday, September 11, take the time to thank them for what they are doing. If you know any men or women in uniform or any members of their families, you might also thank them in any way you deem best. We owe them big time.


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