Reflections on 9/11

9/11 – undoubtedly a tragic day in American history. However, out of the tragedy has emerged a significant opportunity to celebrate our first responders and their ethos of service above self. As the day has evolved into a time of reflection and gratitude, we remember and recognize those who continuously make sacrifices to keep us safe even at the risk of their own lives. These men and women are an example of how a clear ethos can unite a team, and consequently, make a lasting impact on their community. On this day, I often reflect on my parents’ dedication to community and service to others. My mother was a registered nurse at Marlboro General Hospital in Bennettsville, South Carolina. My father, Charles Berry, served as a medic in the Korean War and then returned home to Bennettsville to run the family business. He, along with several friends, recognized the need for an organized and trained response to emergencies in the community and created the Marlboro County Rescue Squad. This rescue squad officially began taking calls in 1960. In addition to being a charter member of the squad, my father served as captain in 1965 and 1966 Prior to my father’s death in 1974, the Marlboro County Rescue Squad’s Berry-Belcher award, which was named in honor of two of the squad founders, was established to formally recognize individual first responders for an outstanding life-saving act. The award is public acknowledgement of the gratitude for heroism in the community. While recognition is much deserved by first responders, accolades are not the goal of these individuals. Instead they are driven by a team ethos of caring for others even when it creates a personal risk. Such individuals make a lasting impact on their communities just as my father made an impact on our community and on me. The selflessness with which he served has continued to be the standard I strive to reach, the compass that I follow in shaping my personal ethos as well as my career choices. To my father and all those who continue to save lives in our communities, thank you. Your dedication and compassion for your community deserves our respect and gratitude. May you and your valiant actions never be forgotten.