The events of Sept. 11, 2001, remain fixed in the memories of anyone who lived through that terrible day.
But along with the tragedy, there’s another side to Sept. 11: the acts of kindness from ordinary people reaching out to those most affected.
“Those stories need to be told and remembered along with the tragic stories,” said Jane Jarrow, a member of the Tri-Village Lions Club.
The Lions Club will present “After 9/11: How Strangers Made a Better World” at 2 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Upper Arlington High School auditorium, 1650 Ridgeview Road.
“We’re calling this an afternoon to give you hope for the human race, and that’s the message,” Jarrow said. “The worst of times brings out the best of people. We’re hoping this program will help people carry that thought forward into their daily lives and think about the small ways we can make the world a better place.”
The Oct. 6 event will include guest speakers who will reflect on their 9/11 experiences.
Columbus resident Shirley Brooks-Jones was on a Delta Airlines flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Atlanta when her plane was diverted to Newfoundland after the 9/11 attacks.
Brooks-Jones and other passengers spent four days in Lewisporte, Newfoundland, where they were overwhelmed by the generosity of the community.
“They came from everywhere and they cleaned their homes out to bring everything we needed – not just food, but towels, washcloths, blankets, you name it,” she said. “They called us ‘the plane people’ and it was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Brooke-Jones founded the Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund as a way for her and her fellow passengers to thank the community.
The fund has given out scholarships to nearly 300 Lewisporte students, and Brooks-Jones returns to Lewisporte each year to present them.
It was gratifying, and yet not too surprising that the people of Newfoundland responded when thousands of “plane people” began arriving Sept. 11, Brooks-Jones said.
“When something bad happens – an auto accident by the side of the road or a natural disaster – people step up and help,” she said. “But I think during our day-to-day lives, sometimes people just don’t pay attention to what’s going on. There’s a world of need all around us every day. We just have to open our eyes to it and be willing to respond.”
That’s the important theme for the Lions Club’s After 9/11 event, said Brooks-Jones, who became a Lions Club member after speaking to the Tri-Village chapter about her Newfoundland experience in 2002.
Another speaker will be Dan Kochensparger, who was a firefighter with the Upper Arlington Fire Department in 2001. He responded to the World Trade Center site as a member of Ohio Task Force One, one of 28 urban search-and-rescue units that are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“He’ll be reflecting on all the amazing acts of kindness he saw during the days he was serving in New York,” Jarrow said.
A third guest speaker, Jason Thomas, was serving in the military and was on leave visiting his family in Long Island on Sept. 11.
“As soon as he heard about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, he jumped into his car and drove against traffic to Ground Zero to help in any way he could,” Jarrow said. “He arrived just as the second tower was collapsing.”
The Lions Club will create discussion guides to be used by groups after the Oct. 6 event, Jarrow said.
One of the guides, which is being developed by James Keyes, a rector with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church near Upper Arlington, is designed for adults.
“The adult discussion guide will include some questions groups can use to start a conversation about how we respond to crisis situations, what brings forward that spirit of giving and human kindness that always occurs after a tragic event and how we can find ways to apply that same spirit every day,” Jarrow said.
The other discussion guide will be geared toward middle school and high school students.
“Those of us who lived through 9/11 will never forget it, but for young people, it’s a historic event they study and read about, like Pearl Harbor is for me,” Jarrow said. “All they probably know about 9/11 is the tragic loss of life and how our world has changed since then. They need to learn about all the acts of kindness and selflessness that happened on Sept. 11 and on the days that followed.”
The discussion guides will be available to download at trivillagelions.org on Oct. 6, she said. Admission to After 9/11 is $10 for adults, $5 for students with their student ID.
Proceeds will support the Flight 15 Scholarship Fund and the Tri-Village Lions Club.
The Lions Club is working with various local organizations to set up a process through which students in Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights and at the Wellington School and St. Agatha School can obtain the tickets through their schools and have the organizations reimburse the cost, Jarrow said.
“We really want as many students to attend this program as possible,” she said.
Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance via the After 9/11 Event link at trivillagelions.org.