By Jo-Ann Hohl
The Owen J. Roberts High School band practices every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Attendance is mandatory, and the band is very competitive. But then, on that horrible day of September 11th, 2001, the school made the decision that everything was canceled, including all after-school activities.
This meant that band was canceled. The teens had a free night! As a young person, what would you do with an unexpected night off? Catch up on homework? Maybe go out and party with your friends? As a teenager, would the deaths of strangers or the collapse of buildings 300 miles away have influenced your choices?
These teens, like the rest of the nation, had sat glued to the television watching the events unfold, and they had heard the call for help being broadcast. One of the band members was moved by the call for blood donations. He had never given blood before, but knew it was something he could do to contribute. He asked a friend who had previously given blood exactly what was involved, and learned that it was something most people could do.
The phone number that was being shown on the television was busy, so he phoned the local hospital to see where blood could be donated. He was given the address of a nearby church that had, by sheer fate, months before scheduled its annual Red Cross blood drive for that very day.
However, rather than simply going to the blood drive by themselves, the two teen friends each spent over an hour on the phone recruiting other band members. They told them, “We don’t have to go to band. We can give blood. We can help.” Many of the band members decided to do what they could, and also showed up at the blood drive.
It can be difficult to find someone with something positive to say about teens. People say that their music is loud, their clothes are ugly and they don’t dress properly. People say that their manners are bad and their behavior is unspeakable. Many adults say that the young people of today will cause the decline of our country tomorrow.
But I think that our country will be in good hands. I am proud of these young men, and their friends who met them at the Red Cross blood drive that night. These teens gave up an unexpected bonus, a night of freedom from all responsibilities, to take up the responsibility of saving a life.