For the 13th consecutive September, we partnered with the Red Cross of the City of Skopje and the Institute of Transfusion Medicine to collect blood and food supplies for those in need. Our Food and Blood Drive started in 2002 to honor the victims, survivors, and first responders of the September 11 attacks through community service.
This year we recognize volunteer firefighters and honor their service. This has been a difficult summer for firefighters in North Macedonia as wildfires spread across the country. They–along with their colleagues from Austria, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Serbia–demonstrated tremendous heroism and dedication over and over again; saving countless lives and livelihoods of Macedonian citizens.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador Byrnes noted the importance of volunteerism and made special mention of the volunteer firefighters who give selflessly of their time and themselves to help others in need. Read below Ambassador Byrnes’ full remarks.
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Remarks of Ambassador Kate Byrnes
Day of Service and Remembrance –September 14, 2021
U.S. Embassy Skopje
Good morning friends and colleagues. I am happy to welcome you back to the U.S. Embassy for our Day of Service and Remembrance event and donation drive. We are proud to partner with the Red Cross and the Institute of Transfusion Medicine to host this event once again this year, as we have every year since 2009.
This year, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic events that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. We mourn their loss and honor their memory with this day of service.
In the aftermath of those tragic events twenty years ago, many volunteers came forward to support first responders in their search for survivors, provide counselling and emotional support to victims, and contribute to the massive clean-up efforts. We dedicate this year’s Day of Service and Remembrance to all volunteers, here in North Macedonia, in the United States, and around the world who give selflessly of their time and themselves to help others in need.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said, “volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale…It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds.”
The Red Cross is an organization founded on volunteerism. Red Cross volunteers don’t just make blood and food donation drives like ours today possible. Every day, more than 300 volunteers in north Macedonia alone actively work on activities supporting families at risk. They staff vaccination points throughout the country, distribute medicine for homebound patients, and deliver food and hygiene supplies for COVID patients. They support families suffering the economic effects of the pandemic, aid firefighters battling blazes across North Macedonia, and welcome evacuees from Afghanistan with care and compassion. These are just some of the many ways that Red Cross volunteers “change the odds.”
Today we particularly want to honor our volunteer firefighters. This has been a difficult summer and firefighters from North Macedonia, along with their colleagues from Austria, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Serbia, have shown tremendous heroism and dedication, saving lives and livelihoods, many times over.
The volunteer fire brigade “Bajran Miftari” from Cair has a long association with this event and with the U.S. Embassy. Its former president, Nuredin Mustafa, whom we sadly lost to COVID-19 earlier this year, personally attended and donated blood every year since the very first event. It is volunteers like Mr. Mustafa and his fellow firefighters who embody the words of Winston Churchill – “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
To honor that dedication to service and in remembrance of all the lives lost on September 11, I will be donating blood today. We are proud to partner with the Red Cross and the Institute of Transfusion Medicine to provide support to the people of North Macedonia. This partnership is symbolic of the partnership between the United States and the Republic of North Macedonia, as we continue to work together, as we have for nearly two decades.
I want to thank Secretary-General Saiti and all the volunteers and staff of the Red Cross and the Institute of Transfusion Medicine who make this event possible this year and every year.
Secretary-General Saiti, would you please say a few words?
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