TERRE HAUTE —
On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Indiana State University senior Allison Vaught took a few minutes to show her appreciation for Wabash Valley’s first responders.
Over the noon hour, the Martinsville native wrote a “thank you” card as part of an activity conducted by the Center for Community Engagement and the American Democracy Project.
“I feel it’s important for students and people my age to get involved and to give back,” Vaught said. “We’ve been given so much in our generation, and it’s important for us to honor those who have taken time out of their day to make our lives safer.”
She had a personal issue last semester in which a first responder “came to me and he touched my life because he was so sweet. I just want to give back to them for making sure I was safe and taken care of.”
Those who stopped by the tent in front of the ISU Career Center received blank cards to write messages or use stamps that printed, “Thank you.”
The weather was hot and humid, reaching into the 90s, but that didn’t deter more than 105 students from participating.
The cards will go to local police and firefighters, said Patrick Newsham, program coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement.
First responders “never know when they are in harm’s way,” said Nancy Rogers, ISU associate vice president for community engagement. The service event “is an active way to remember 9/11.”
Other students who stopped by were a brother and sister, Jonathan and Whitney Neel, also from Martinsville.
“It means a lot,” said Jon Neel. “We have family that are firefighters” who knew some of the first responders in New York City during 9/11.
Whitney, a sophomore, believes “it’s important to thank people who protect us and serve so that we can be safe. They don’t always get appreciation as much as they should.”
The Neels have an uncle who went to New York City to help with cleanup efforts after the terrorist attacks.
Another ISU student, Sierra Dodson, stopped by the table to see what was going on; she wants to get involved in campus life. When she learned what the project was about, she decided to participate.
“It’s important to let people know you care about what they’ve done for you,” Dodson said. If it wasn’t for police and firefighters, “Bad things would happen. … I like being safe,” she said.
When Hannah Ka walked up to the table and learned about the project, she responded, “That’s awesome. My dad is a firefighter.”
She knows from personal experience that her dad “loves it when people come up to him and say thank you for different things.”
Writing thank you cards “is a great way to show how much everyone cares and how much support everyone has for them,” Ka said.
One card had stamped on the front, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Inside, it read, “Thank you Wabash Valley first responders for your service to our community.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.