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From: Kristina Gist -- Volunteer
Posted: June 22, 2004

When I think of how young I am, and an American to say the least makes me very proud. What makes it great to be an American is to be able to have the freedom to be involved in organizations like 9-11, and UWSF. These organizations have given us all an opportunity to exercise our freedom. Our god given constitutional right to choose to be involved with the organizations at hand.

I thank you for reminding me that to be an American is something that no one should take for granted. For reminding me what an amazing country we live in. It seems to be such a shame knowing that we take our freedom for granted. A lot of the time we are pretty unaware that we do just that. There is more than one person I have in my life that has experienced what having no freedom is like. I have soon to be family that had to run, and make an escape before it got so bad in Iran that they might lose their lives. I think about the images on TV of the women hiding their smiles, faces, and hair. I could not imagine being a woman in another country where I would be forced to be uneducated. The thought of being publicly humiliated for sharing my opinions, and views. Even facing the possibility of death if I were so much as to disrespect a man no matter what he did to me first. Thank god I am free to say what I feel. I was raised to never cower in the face of anyone, adversity or not.

I may have lived a short 30 years, yes I said 30. Yet, those years have shown me a lot. The history that I have experienced is in no comparison to those who have experienced it first hand. I have watched a cold war end. Not one but two shuttles blowing up, one leaving for the unknown, and the other returning to tell us of the unknown. Watched as one gulf war began, and end, to see another now, with what seems to be no end in sight. Riots just a few towns away, and even the Berlin wall coming down. The piece of my history that is the most tragic and soul jarring, were the attacks of September 11, 2001.

My heart goes out to all those that were effected by the attacks. The people in the planes, the towers, and the pentagon. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It is a memory I refuse to ever let wash from my memory. Not because I want to live in a world of sadness, but to always remember that history will always repeat itself. I remember the first images I saw, and how heart breaking it truly was. I felt hollow when I watched it on the TV, and I still feel hollow today for the total loss that I seem to not be able to get over. I hope and pray today that with time all that were truly affected that time may heal their pain.

I involve myself in the charities because it allows me to give something back. No matter how small or minor, it is something. I give my time, small money, just so that the babies who will never know their fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents; that there are people who truly care. I guess in general I give to those, because I will never know or understand their anguish. I feel such a pride to be involved.

The others I want to commend are those who serve in our armed forces. Thank you for all that you give. To their families I also commend you, for I know at times your spouses will never come back. Our humanity that our country gives just amazes me at times. Our troops give up their families, and lives at times to give others just a small chance to experience, that which we all at times take for granted. Good old plain FREEDOM.

I think I could go on forever, yet it will never be enough to show anyone how my heart shines with pride each time I get to donate, and see all the faces around me who are there for the same reasons. Again thank you Mike, and Gary (my father), and all others who are apart of one or hopefully both organizations by now. I personally raise my golf club, you could choose to raise a glass, and say, "Here is to charity; for memories of lost loved ones, and ones that may be lost. May we all one day truly see world peace, and may the world know the meaning of "freedom".

Kristina Gist

Life with a Different View

Looking down there is a city full of life.
A view that seems to be endless,
a view with Lady Liberty somewhere setting in the sun.
Looking down you might even see something that
looks like thousands of ants, which turn out to be
thousands of people going on with their busy lives.

The view and feeling around you seems to be one of
not having a care in the world.

Then life changes and there is a different view.
A view that took only a matter of minutes.

The view that many will never forget,
a view that makes life different.
For a view that seemed to never end,
a view for others that will never end.

No more is the view of looking down and seeing a city full of life,
no more endless looking, for it not longer exists.
The view of Lady Liberty setting in the sun from way up above is
forever gone, yet Lady Liberty still stands.

For those who had the privilege to maybe see the described above, and
probably see other images; you are in the unique position of saying,

'I remember'.

For others who never had the opportunity to stand a top those buildings,
we can only use our imaginations
to think of what the view was truly like.

However, we all share a common view.
A view that is forever changed.
We all have a new life,

A life with a Different View.

Kristina Gist
June 17, 2004

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