She went to New York to help out: ‘It wasn’t hard’
September 11, 2002
One year ago today, around breakfast time, our community learned that this country was under attack.
By lunch, many Aspenites expressed frustration that they could not help out with search and rescue operations mobilizing in New York City and Washington, D.C. People here could not even donate blood, as Aspen does not have its own blood bank.
It was a bright and sunny day in Aspen, but televisions across town were tuned in to footage of the disaster.
That November, Aspen resident Terry End, 70, decided she had to do more than sympathize with the people in New York, so she packed her bags and headed east.
When asked how she decided to travel to the place where the most lives were lost, End said simply, “It wasn’t hard.”
Once there, she spent two weeks cooking and serving meals to volunteers at Ground Zero.
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Originally from New York, End moved to Aspen in the 1950s. She worked at the Copper Kettle restaurant in town, and then spent many years running The Aspen Montessori School.
When she got to New York last November, End said she was startled by what she saw at Ground Zero, even though the media had bombarded the public with images of the destruction.
“It really blew you away ? it was still very smoky, and there were trucks in there, starting to put roads into the site,” she said.
It wasn’t until a couple of months later that workers erected an observation deck for visitors to the site, so End just tried to get as close as she could to the scene of the tragedy, edging up next to chain link fences for a glimpse of the rubble.
“It was very, very quiet when you approached the site. Since it was such a big area, you couldn’t really hear the machines that were working,” she said. “At night it was very impressive. With all the lights up, it was kind of eerie, actually.”
End signed up for work detail, preparing and serving food to the many people who toiled on the site each day. She saw police, firefighters and Port Authority officials eating meals each day, gathering strength before going back to the location where they lost scores of friends and co-workers.
“You’d think it would be very emotional, but by that time, so much time had passed that things were very organized,” she said. “We were all working pretty hard, and there wasn’t a lot of time to sit around and talk to the firemen.”
Some volunteers from police and fire departments around the country did seem a little more overwhelmed with the task at hand, End said.
“There were so many people there who had worked every day since September 11 ? all kinds of people,” she said. “Counselors, food-prep people, delivery people, and teams helping clean up apartments around Ground Zero.”
One year later, End says she can reflect on the events that took place and feel privileged to be part of a dedicated group of volunteers from across the country.
“You do feel differently a year after,” she said. “What can I say? I’m just more aware of what’s going on, and our role in the world. I was so impressed with all of the volunteers, and that was terrific. There was great camaraderie ? everyone was really cooperative and worked hard.”
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]