The following article appeared in The Hazleton 'Standard Speaker' on September 25, 2001.
EDITOR' NOTE - Harley Gliem, who turns 8 today, of Hazleton and his mother, Lynn, collected donations that they used to purchase food for rescue dogs helping police and firefighters in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The fundraiser helped unite Lynn's co-workers at Hazleton General Hospital who ended a strike on Sept. 10 but nevertheless provided money for the dog food and medical supplies. At 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, the Gliems left Hazleton to deliver the supplies to a fire station in New York City. They also placed a flag at the Imagine Disc, a memorial to John Lennon in Central Park, before returning home after 10 p.m. Lynn's father, Rick Mikula of Hazleton, the author and co-author of eight books about butterflies, accompanied them to New York and wrote the following description of the trip.
When I made that last turn on the New Jersey Turnpike heading to the Holland Tunnel and we first saw the rising smoke from our smoldering future billowing against a perfect sky my heart actually stopped for a minute. I saw Harley and Lynn's mouths fall open, and the only sound in the car was the trickling of tears against our cheeks. We were speechless for miles.
Even as we looked back and forth from that heart wrenching scene to each other for reassurance that it was actually real and not just the TV screen, words became useless. It was futile trying to describe the indescribable. Once we touched foot on the Isle of Manhattan, we had a glimpse into what the world should be like. Not the physical place of destruction but a community of the warmest, friendliest people I have ever had the privilege to encounter.
We delivered everything Saturday morning at Fire House 18. The Fire chief told (Harley) that he was a real hero for all he did. Harley wouldn't even let me help him unload the car. He had to do it. We then released a few butterflies at the makeshift memorial that was set up outside the firehouse because they lost eight wonderful people to the WTC. It was one of the most profound days that I was ever privileged to live. The sights, the sounds, the atmosphere, the warmth of the people are still indescribable. I make my living as a professional speaker and I still can not explain how that day has changed my life, and it certainly was for the better.
Everywhere we went people could not have been kinder, nicer or more polite than that day. We stopped in a tavern for lunch and when the management found out Harley drove 2½ hours to make sure the dogs were OK, all our food and drinks were free. In stores and on the streets people actually without knowing us gave us presents. Drivers were never so polite anywhere. And Harley took some great pictures.
That day I got to see people at their finest - so many people going out of their way. You could have picked up the kindness and thoughtfulness with a shovel. If you didn't you would have tripped over it. Even on the subway, people actually stepped back smiling and said "No You First."
No it wasn't a typical day in New York City, but it was a perfect day, a day where people actually acted like people, and a day when they respected everyone and couldn't express it more. Our efforts were well appreciated, as were those of everyone else. At every corner and red light we saw cars filled: helpers from California, firemen from Minnesota, EMTs from Ohio. But that day they weren't Californians or Minnesotans or even Pennsylvanians. They were wonderful people who just wanted to do whatever they could to help others.
One of the things we did was to go to the "Imagine Disc'' at Strawberry Fields in Central Park to light candles and wish for peace. Since there wasn't any flag there, we placed a small one there. Sunday night during the "NBC Evening News,'' before a fade to a commercial, showed the Imagine Disc for a few seconds then zeroed in on our flag still standing proud. So you can see that I am pretty proud of my two heroes.
(click images for larger view)
All photos copyright © 2001 Harley
Gliem; all rights reserved.
Copyright © 2001 Rick Mikula, all rights reserved.