Facing the Challenge
“God, give me the courage to do this.”
In recent weeks, we have been reminded of the horrors and heroism of 9/11. For David Hartzell ’72, the memories remain vivid, because 9/11 became a defining moment in his journey.
David graduated from Geneva with majors in education and history, and a minor in psychology. David’s quality, Christ-centered education helped him to grow in his faith and equipped him for a career in public service. Less than a year after graduation, he joined the FBI, where he worked with privacy-related issues.
During the 1990s, the U.S. government established a Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG). Members of the CIRG would be responsible for debriefing and evaluating first responders to terrorist attacks and tragic events. Because of his training in psychology from Geneva, David was well-prepared for this type of challenge, so he joined the team. David and others assisted in the aftermath of events like the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
David was on vacation when the 9/11 attacks occurred, but he and his team were soon called to a terrible but vital duty: working with the men and women who initially responded to the attacks—the people who ran toward the trouble, then assisted in the search for victims, the recovery of bodies and the cleanup of debris. David was first assigned to the Pentagon, and then to Ground Zero.
This was frontline ministry. The smells were sickening. The sights were horrifying. Immersed in indescribable stress, responders labored with burdens of anger, grief and weariness.
Where did David find the strength to help the helpers? How could he uphold others, without bending or breaking himself? He says he could only offer prayer after prayer after prayer:
“God, let me get through this.”
“God, walk with me.”
“God, give me the courage to do this.”
David says he remembers the words of Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” And David says he has seen Jesus’ words in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
David retired from the FBI in 2007 and returned to his childhood home of Beaver County. Now he sings with the Beaver Valley Choral Society and the King Beaver Chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He is also a member at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Beaver Falls, where on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, he was asked to describe the day and days that none of us will ever forget.
As David Hartzell reflects on his career, he rejoices in the excellent training he received at Geneva. He is thankful for the Christ-centered education that sustained him in the darkest hours of his duty. “If Geneva didn’t prepare me the right way, I wouldn’t have lasted.”
I am thankful for Geneva because…
How would you complete that sentence? Click here to complete (in 100 words or less). In the November issue of alumni@geneva, we hope to bring you some of the best submissions.
Geneva at Westminster!
Gather at the Geneva tent from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., grab a drink, enjoy some fellowship and then cheer the Golden Tornadoes to victory!
"I love how the professors pray and read scripture before each class. It reminds me why I am a student and what I am here for." Click here to read Ryan's profile. Prominent speakers and artists are scheduled to come to Geneva this fall. Geneva is sponsoring the Casting Crowns concert at Consol Energy Center on March 31, 2012, with special guest Matthew West. Provost Ken Carson presented the city with a $10,000 contribution.
"I love how the professors pray and read scripture before each class. It reminds me why I am a student and what I am here for."
Click here to read Ryan's profile.
Prominent speakers and artists are scheduled to come to Geneva this fall.
Geneva is sponsoring the Casting Crowns concert at Consol Energy Center on March 31, 2012, with special guest Matthew West.
Provost Ken Carson presented the city with a $10,000 contribution.