SOURCE: by Kevin Sack in The New York Times. “Strength in Numbers.” Readers Digest. September 2002
KEYWORDS: offering, gratitude, help, thanksgiving, unity, communion
In 1867, two years after South Carolina was devastated by fire at the close of the Civil War, a group of New York City firemen made a magnanimous peace offering. They shipped a state-of-the-art hose carriage to Columbia. When it sank in a shipwreck off the Outer Banks, they raised $2500 for another.
The Southerners were touched by the gesture and promised to return the favor should similar misfortune ever strike New York. After the devastating attacks of September 11 some 135 years later, that day has come. Lead by a brigade of schoolchildren, Columbia raised $525,000 to buy a fire engine for New York.
White Knoll Middle School principal Nancy L. Turner conceived the idea and was spurred on by Columbia’s fire chief John D. Jansen, Jr., a New York City native, who told her of the 1867 gift. As word of the campaign spread, unsolicited contributions poured in.
Today, as in 1867, a gift may narrow regional differences. According to Turner, since 9/11 even prideful Southerners have come to see New York as the capital of the American heart.