Why wear the yellow shirt?
October 5 2001 by K. Brown , BSC Communications

Why wear the yellow shirt? | Friday, Oct. 5, 2001

Friday, Oct. 5, 2001

Why wear the yellow shirt?

By K. Brown BSC Communications (EDITOR'S NOTE - The following is a first-person account of N.C. Baptists providing warm meals to the crisis workers at the Pentagon following the terrorist attack on Sept. 11.)

What's with those yellow shirts? Dana, my wife, and I have pondered this question while covering hurricanes Fran, Bonnie and Floyd in North Carolina, Mitch in Honduras and Emil in Mozambique.

What makes a relief worker do what they do? Why do they put on those yellow shirts?

Filming the Pentagon story recently brought us closer to discovering the answer. As a film crew we try to blend into the surroundings in such a way that we don't alter the environment with our presence. In this instance it was mandatory that we blend in with the relief team, so we donned the yellow shirts. We were immersed in their lives - 24 hours a day.

When filming was prohibited we helped out as best we could, prepping food, serving drinks or delivering cookies. For the first time I saw the relief effort, not from behind the viewfinder of a camera, but from behind the serving line. No longer was it a series of recorded images, electronic frames of sound and movement or a slide on the light table. It was the warmth of a handshake. It was the blank stare of a young man describing his duties as a member of the body recovery detail.

Without even knowing it, our lives were being transformed. We started to understand the bond that develops between a group of people when they come together to "offer a cup of water in His name." I began to realize why so many of the volunteers can't explain their reasons for going. It's something that gets inside your heart and there really are no words to describe it.

Then an interesting thing happened. When the time came to remove the shirt, I couldn't. I didn't want to. Why? Who knows? That's something I have yet to figure out and maybe never will.

Many times we ask volunteers a simple question. Is it worth it? Is it worth three hours of sleep for days on end? Is it worth standing on asphalt until your feet ache? Is it worth knowing that you're putting yourself in a situation that might take months to get over?

While we were conducting interviews, a brigadier general said: "Thank you on behalf of the men and women who are here. Their suffering is relieved because of what you are doing."

Then Kirk Hamlet, a Pentagon employee, told us: "There are a lot of people here who are doing some very difficult things inside the building, trying to look for survivors. I know, they're telling me the folks in the yellow shirts are the ones they are going to remember most when this is over."

Just think about that for a second. What if it's true? What if, some day in the future, an individual is looking back on their experience at the Pentagon? Instead of reliving the fear, the horror, the exhaustion and yes, even the smell of death, what if for a split second they remember a smile, a warm plate of food, a pat on the back and someone saying "thank you for what you're doing." What if they come away with the knowledge that God's people were there with a message of hope?

You tell me, is it worth it?

Dana and I will be happy to wear those yellow shirts any time.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: K. Brown is audio-video team leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Copies of Brown's video about N.C. Baptist work at the Pentagon have been mailed to all N.C. Baptist pastors. Additional copies are available by calling [800] 395-5102 or [919] 467-5100, ext. 182.)

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10/5/2001 12:00:00 AM by K. Brown , BSC Communications | with 0 comments
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