BERLIN – As the nation said goodbye to former President George H.W. Bush in Washington D.C. this week, a local man was among those who paid tribute to the iconic leader.
Berlin resident Tyler Betz paid his respects to the 41st president Wednesday as Bush lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Betz, who remembers Bush from his time as president and read of his heroics as a pilot in World War II, was awed by the dignity of the occasion. The array of servicemen and women in attendance in particular made a strong impression on him.
“The whole thing was majestic,” Betz said Thursday morning. “It was respectful.”
While Betz did pay his respects to Bush, his primary purpose in visiting Washington D.C. this week was as a volunteer for the American Red Cross, an organization he’s been involved with for about five years. He’s always eager to assist where needed and couldn’t help but sign up for this week’s response, which was to help the public honor a president he himself revered. Betz, who works as a social worker for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Salisbury, pointed out that before he was president, Bush was one of the nation’s war heroes.
“He was a good man and a good president,” Betz said. “I had a lot of respect for him as a veteran. I just felt called to go and help in any way that I could.”
During his time as a Red Cross volunteer, Betz has helped those affected by dozens of house fires and has also participated in a handful of national responses. He was in Philadelphia during the papal visit and went to Houston last year to offer his assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. In D.C. this week, Betz was one of the Red Cross volunteers from throughout the country handing out handwarmers, helping lost visitors and answering questions.
“The Red Cross usually serves at these national events,” Betz said. “They’re a regular, reliable presence.”
Betz, who volunteered from 3 to 11 p.m., said the line was five hours long. Though attendees struggled with the cold, he said they remained friendly and engaging.
“They were appreciative of us spending the time there,” he said.
Betz said that while events like this week’s garner national attention but stressed that the majority of what the Red Cross does relates to house fires. He said the organization has responded to 100 local house fires during the past year.
“Ninety percent of what the Red Cross does is respond to home fires,” he said. “At every house fire the Red Cross is available to provide relief.”
Currently, there’s a shortage of local Red Cross volunteers. Betz hopes that by spotlighting the efforts of the organization, more people will offer their time.
“There’s a dearth of responders in this area,” he said. “We definitely need more.”
The American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes. Ninety percent of its workforce is volunteers. As one of those volunteers, Betz says he’s able to offer help to those who need it most.
“It’s rewarding to me because it’s giving back to the community in a time of need,” he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Red Cross is encouraged to call the Salisbury office at 410-202-3831.