9/11 Observance: National Day of Service

Few events in life leave a mark like the events surrounding September 11, 2001. On that fateful day, we were shocked at our vulnerability. However, in the aftermath, we saw a coming together. While the attacks did spawn ill-placed hatred, there was also an outpouring of love and service. And one of the greatest traditions to come out of the 9/11 attacks was not the insistence by our leaders that we shop and buy and consume in the face of terrorism. It was the National Day of Service and Remembrance that was inspired by the good lives led by many of the people who died as a result of 9/11 attacks.

We learned, on that day, that there are still real heroes for us to honor, and that we can pull together to create something good. A National Day of Service is one of the legacies of the 9/11 attacks, and it is evidence of the very best in us.

National Day of Service

Around the country on 9/11, and during the preceding week and this coming week, many Americans commit to service. There are a number of things that you can do to serve, whether it’s in your hometown, or on a national scale. From food drives, to care packages for soldiers, to putting together hygiene kits, to giving blood, to helping with efforts to clean up in the wake of this year’s devastating floods and tornadoes, there are a number of ways you can help. The web site 911day.org provides you with great ideas for service, as well as the chance to share your own story of service. It’s a great way to write down your plans, and commit to service.

Other places you can look for opportunities include local government organizations, charity organizations, religious congregations and service clubs. Once you start looking for ways to serve, you can get ideas from almost anywhere — and you will find that there are thousands of ways to serve, even in your own community. This can also be a great time to teach your children about philanthropy and service. My son asked me about 9/11 when he saw the Sunday paper yesterday. Since it happened more than a year before he was born, he was interested to know about what happened. He was also interested to read the stories of local efforts to participate in the National Day of Service and Remembrance. It was a perfect opportunity to teach him about the value of helping others, and put together a plan for doing a little more service throughout the year.

National 9/11 Flag

Another national symbol that has come from 9/11 is the National 9/11 Flag. This flag was one of the largest flying over the Twin Towers, and was badly damaged as a result of the attacks. It is being restored, and is on a tour of all 50 states. The final stitches were sewn on the flag this past weekend in Joplin, Missouri, site of tornado devastation.

The goal of the National 9/11 Flag and its current tour, according to the web site for the flag, is:

…to display this historic flag at leading venues nationwide, to empower local service heroes in all 50 states with the privilege of stitching the flag back to its original 13-stripe format, and to inspire 300 million Americans with the flag’s rich visual history in order to deepen our sense of citizenship and national pride and bolster the spirit of volunteerism on the 9/11 Anniversary and year-round.

When complete, the National 9/11 Flag will be displayed at the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

So, as we remember that day, consider that today is 9/12, and an opportunity to get out there and make the world a better place.

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