911 Scholarship Fund
December 9, 2001
Remarks of Arlington County Civic
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests - I want to thank you for coming today - to help us say thank you to the Heroes of Arlington - those men and women who work among us everyday and who did something extraordinary on September 11th.
Federation President Jim Pebley
I'm supposed to tell you why we are here today. I think you know that. But - let me tell you how this meeting came about -
My friend Tim Reese, the President of the Arlington East Falls Church CA is someone whom I would call a catalyst. Back in late September, he sent an email to the Civic Federation - asking us, all 76 member organizations, to join him and do something "in the National Spirit." His idea was that we, the public organizations of Arlington would band together to make a meaningful gesture about this attack on our country. We talked it over. The horrific outcome in New York after 9/11 throws everything about life out of scale. The attack was unthinkable. The loss of WTC workers and NYC public safety employees staggers the imagination. And the outpouring of donations to help the victims and the recognition for the NYPD and FDNY was aweinspiring.
All of which led us to a feeling that somehow, the magnitude of the accomplishments of Arlington's heroes was diminished by solely by a matter of scale. Well - I'm here to remind you that, to borrow a quote from HBO's Band of Brothers, that we live among real heroes. They all responded. Everyone of them. From the police officers and sheriff's deputies who took charge of the evacuating more than 20,000 personnel at the Pentagon, to the Firefighters climbing atop a steep blazing slate roof, 5 stories above the ground -- fighting to keep the fire from spreading throughout the Pentagon. Our men and women saved a building that symbolizes America's strength among nations. On September 11th, our nation went to war. Our Public Safety Employee were first to man the front lines; right there on Washington Boulevard.
Tim and I wondered -- how do you properly honor such valor? There have been some very well organized, beautifully handled "ceremonies of appreciation" that have provided the venue for the national public recognition they deserve. But Tim and I wanted to do something that would endure - just as their endeavors for us provides a continuum of public service. You see, they didn't stop being heroes on the 12th of September. So we decided to do something that would help them in the most tangible way we could devise. And we asked -- what could be better than helping them with the costs of kids in college? We won't talk of wages and benefits here today. But, suffice to say - they can use whatever we can afford. And we want to spare as much as we can.
So we talked about college scholarships. Neither of us know how to run a fund or screen a candidate. But we both know someone who is really good at that - Vicki Kirkbride and her friends at the Arlington Community Foundation. Vicki show us how, together with the ACF we could set up a fund that would give tax deductions to contributors and, if we grow it big enough, would let us grant scholarships year after year.
The more we looked at the ACF, the more we liked what we saw. Their reputation is sterling and we know that by dealing through them - that 99 per cent of the money would get to the scholarships with a minimum of costs. So we proposed this idea to the Civic Federation's membership and they overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution that you can see inside your agendas.
It makes me proud beyond words for our Federation to have a chance to help organize this. Because like every one of you - I stood before a television on September 11 and wanted to do something - anything -- to make some measure of good come out of that most heinous of evil acts.
This good deed will suit. The Federation intends continue to support this fund for now and in the future. Just like these heroes among us. You all know who they are. They protect us. They come when we cry for help. They wear blue uniforms, they ride on fire trucks, they guard our courts and they answer the phone when we call 911. Thank you for listening to this explanation.
Remarks of Jay Fisette
Chairman, Arlington County Board
Hello, and thank you for coming today. Special thanks to Jim Pebley, Tim Reese, and to the Arlington Community Foundation for making this scholarship program a reality.
As the outgoing Chairman of the County Board, I have become a little more philosophical. So please bear with me.
September 11 has changed our lives. Though I usually resist overdramatizing the relevance of events, it became quickly clear that our world has changed as a result. So, what will be the legacy of September 11?
Renewed patriotism, and a better understanding of the values that make our country great - such as freedom, justice, and human rights. Many have a more grounded and solemn love of county and love of country.
Renewed respect for the role of government and public employees. I have always believed that government SHOULD play an important and positive role in people's lives. That belief is shared by far more people today than it was four months ago.
Most of us experienced the loss of some sense of America's invincibility and our personal safety. That our security - both physical and emotional -- is a fragile commodity. This is not unique to the U.S. - in fact, our new reality is in fact more the reality the rest of the world has experienced for quite some time.
Confronting death or threats can lead to a reassessment of what is important in our lives. We may prioritize differently, and that's usually a healthy change.
And maybe we will become a little less selfish, a little more respectful of others and compassionate toward those with fewer advantages. Maybe we are more able today to see our similarities than dwell on our differences."
I am convinced that each crisis, personal challenge, or obstacle thrown in our path DOES represent an opportunity. It has been said that, "One sees great things from the valley and only small things from the peak."
And maybe we have become a little less selfish�.maybe. On October 7th at Arlington's Day of Remembrance and Appreciation, I also said, "We are filled with the potential for good, and must not let it slip away." Well this scholarship that you are creating today represents that manifestation of "good".
On September 11th and in the weeks that followed, Arlington responded with distinction and made us all proud. Arlington found itself in the world's spotlight�in people's living rooms. Our ECC, EMS, Fire, Police and Sheriff's office personnel all had a unique role - many on the front lines. Our public employees did their jobs�.did what they were trained to do. As I said on October 7th, they "Helped to turn Arlington's darkest moment into its finest hour."
Ensuring the safety of our residents, employees and visitors is a core responsibility of any government - and our record - both in the recent and longer term past - are clear evidence of our commitment to create and maintain a safe community.
On behalf of my colleagues on the County Board, congratulations and thank you to all involved in the establishment of this wonderful scholarship program.
This page was last revised on: December 28, 2003.