Patriots Roll Up Their Sleeves

Sept. 11, 2001 was a traumatizing day for many – but people were given an outlet Tuesday to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church in Wheeling held its first ”Red, White and You Blood Drive” to allow people to donate a pint of blood in memory of those who lost their lives on that day.

Wheeling resident Jim Shepard said he tries to donate as often as possible, but he also wanted to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks.

”It was a pretty important day for everybody. It’s hard to believe it was 11 years ago. Nine-eleven was a day like today – sunny and warm. It caught me by surprise. It took everybody by surprise,” Shepard said, noting he was at work at the Hampton Inn on National Road when it happened.

”We stood around the TV trying to figure out what was going on,” Shepard said. ”It was a pretty sad day for a lot of people. I still remember seeing on TV all the people running down the street in New York, dust everywhere. Hopefully we’ll never go through that again.”

Wheeling resident Michelle John said she started donating blood while in college to earn money. Today, people donate for free.

”I can’t think of anything that you can do so effortlessly that helps so many people,” John said. ”This is a wonderful thing.”

John said she remembers working at the Ohio County Board of Education office on Sept. 11, 2001.

”There was a principals’ meeting right outside my door – they all had to return to their buildings. … It was a very scary day,” she said.

Wheeling resident Cathy Irish said she also wanted to donate blood in memory of the anniversary.

”I couldn’t believe it,” Irish said of the attacks that day. ”I just wanted to honor and remember.”

Another donor who asked not to be named said it was her first time giving blood. She decided to do so because of the anniversary and at the urging of a friend to give it a try.

Lynne Exley, a Vance member and drive organizer, said she was pleased with the turnout.

”It’s been steady and people have been very patient,” she said, noting several were first-time donors. ”This has been a wonderful experience for us.”