Early last Thursday morning, we departed Bush Field, bound for New York with checks in hand for over $1 million for the victims and families of the Sept. 11 tragedy. Security at the airport was very tight. Most of us were searched with a metal-detecting wand, and all carry-on luggage was checked carefully. I even had to show them that my camera worked before I could take it on the plane.
When we landed in Atlanta on Concourse C, it was like a ghost town. Usually, when you fly, you see some happy, excited faces. There were none to be found - everyone was serious and focused.
From Atlanta, we flew on to New York and were met by drivers pre-arranged by the city of Augusta. Although there was very little chance that we would be able to make it to Ground Zero, they told us they would try.
After negotiation at each checkpoint, we finally arrived at the scene. The amount of destruction, the smell of the smoke, and the sense of despair and hopelessness were overwhelming to me. No words can adequately describe it.
The workers and firefighters were so glad to see supportive faces because they get so little good news.
After 30 minutes at Ground Zero, we drove to the Port Authority where the families were gathered to file for death certificates. This is where we met with Mayor Rudy Giuliani to present the checks. When I gave him the check from the Martinez Fire Department for $28,200 along with a hat and T-shirt, he seemed very moved and grateful. The money was appreciated, but as they were all bolstered by the love and concern we brought from Georgia.
As I now reflect on the events of that day, I feel so proud of our citizens for stepping up to plate to help fellow Americans in need. I am so blessed to represent the fine people of Columbia County.
Frank Spears/District 2 Commissioner
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