Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Dayenu Ministries has identified frontline workers and first responders as one of the groups for whom we want to recognize and serve because of their unbelievable service to our society. These individuals literally are personifying the scripture in Philippians 2:6 of the Bible that teaches us that we should consider others as more important than ourselves. In many circumstances, their actions also translate to them giving their lives on our behalf, another hallmark teaching in the Bible, I John 3:16.
This month, we in the USA, recognized the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on our country. Of course, you remember where you were, we all remember. I was in my home office when I received a call from a friend and co-worker, Liz, who said, “Darryl, do you know what is happening?” I told her ‘no’ and she proceeded to tell me that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Towers. I remember thinking how is this possible as I ran upstairs to turn on the television. I turned on the tv and saw a gaping hole in the tower that was on fire and had a silhouette that indeed looked like plane. How the heck did this happen? Was the pilot drunk? As I was sitting there in absolute amazement listening to NBC commentary, I witnessed another plane crash into the other tower. Excuse my language this one time, “What the hell!”
Oh, it is on now. This is definitely an attack on the USA. Like you, I was glued to the television; literally mesmerized by what I was seeing. I remember NBC covering President Bush at the elementary school where he was reading to the students. His chief of staff leaned over to him and updated the President on the events. The look that Bush gave was for the ages. The first thing that came to mind, as I watched Bush, was that someone is in trouble because they have made this Texan angry. For the entire day, no, for the entire week, I did nothing but stay consumed with the visuals, the analysis/interviews, and trying to find a way to digest and make sense of what had happened on that day.
Now, I actually have quite the story for you from that day. If the events of that day were not enough. It was early evening on 9/11 and yes, I was still in front of the television, glued to the coverage of the unfolding events. The telephone rang (I thought to myself, who is calling me and not obsessing over what has happened) and I answered. A man on the other line asked to speak with Mr. Darryl Cheeks. I indicated that it was me and he proceeded to tell me that he (I cannot remember his name and would not share it anyway) was a general within Department of Defense (DOD) stationed at the Pentagon. Yes, I am truly freaking out. The gentleman goes on to ask me if I am the owner of a company called Chicagoland Barbecue, Inc. I tell him that I am. What comes next still blows my mind.
The general tells me (mind you, this is still 9/11/01) that the USA is going to war and that food company that supplies the military (as ours did) might need to have their food production lines commandeered for military production. What this meant was that if the USA went to war, they might need the food companies that supply them to first produce for the DOD and if we have additional production capacity, then we could continue to produce for our civilian customers. Immediately I am thinking, what war? Did I miss something? Everyone on tv is wandering who did this to us and Mr. General is talking about taking over my company. This conversation ends with the General telling me that until further instructions, this is a classified conversation not to be shared. You probably guessed correctly, I had to go use the bathroom because I needed to take a boo boo (not the word I want to use). Imagine the ongoing inside knowledge I had, for the next two years, as our politicians and leaders told us they were trying to figure out who attacked us, were we going to go to war and the debates, justifications, and proofs offered when all along, they knew exactly what was happening and that plans were already in motion…in motion since 9/11/01.
Well, it happened. The US went to war in Iraq in 2003, and my company was in direct service of the DOD throughout this conflict. Yes, I received another call from the DOD along with one my suppliers Peer Foods. The government instructed us on the timing, quantities and products needed for this theater production (military jargon). While Chicagoland Foods Military Consortium (my company) had already been supplying the military, the orders that were coming in now dwarfed what we had been previously doing. By late 2003, we were feeding the Army in its UGR-A program, West Coast Navy, and the Air Force regiment that oversaw our nuclear weapons around the world. We were feeding 600,000 troops every day. It was a privilege to serve our troops, yet very somber during the tragedy of war.
Wow, we live in an amazing country with so many complexities of happenings and the heroes that take them on. I watched police working with and directing confused and disoriented people in the streets of New York. Firefighters running into buildings on fire to save as many as they could, where Darryl Cheeks would have been running so fast in the opposite direction. Donald Rumsfeld (our Secretary of Defense at the time) trying to rescue victims at the Pentagon and being told he could not do this as he was a cabinet member. Not even understanding what exactly was in front of them, ambulance drivers and nurses also came off duty to address a catastrophe that no one could even comprehend. They just understood that their fellow man was in need.
When you really consider it, what would we do without those who are willing to undertake things we would not even contemplate? Where do they develop that drive, passion, and selflessness? How do we adequately express our gratitude to those who risk their lives so that I might live mine? Not only live my life, but live it with a freedom that I have only witnessed here in our United States. Dayenu Ministries salutes our first responders and frontline workers. You guys are absolutely angels from above! We will never forget.