DO SOMETHING: Thoughts on the Salvation Army’s 9/11 Response

by: Peter C. Vaughan, as printed in Priority magazine (

Arriving at Ground Zero within 12 hours of the attach has seared images, sounds and aromas into my brain. I can summon every sensory assault of that day and be in the place – anytime. In the first few days, nobody was considering particle masks or hard hats or perimeter checkpoints. That all came after the first week or so. It was quasi-organized chaos as like-minded people focused on doing anything we could to channel our own feelings and horror by helping.

I can still feel the adrenaline surge fueling countless hours and days of energy – scouring “the pile,” handing out water bottles or gloves to workers; praying with firefighters, volunteers, and the dazed who were already on their knees. That was not normally in my comfort zone, but prayer was effortless and flowing through grace in those surreal days.

What remains with me deeply is the community of spirit and mission in a collaborate effort to “Do Something!,” a very familiar charge to Salvationists. Folks of every color and race – PATRIOTS – there only to serve our fallen brothers. What a responsibility – what a privilege!

Vaughan is facilities manager at Eastern Territorial Headquarters of The Salvation Army in West Nyack, NY.

To order the 9/11 copy of Priority People, contact  Deloris Hansen at or 845-620-7440

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