9/11 changed each of our lives in significant ways. We live in a world under a constant threat of terrorism. Each of us knows at least one person who has volunteered to serve our country fighting the war on terror. And, we have had 12 years to reflect on what it means to belong to this great country.
On September 11, 2001—despite our location, or differences in political and religious affiliations—all Americans shared the shame grief and mourned our losses. Three hundred forty-three firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers lost their lives when the World Trade Center building collapsed. Over 50,000 U.S. soldiers are either dead or wounded from defending our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, our country was and continues to be greatly affected.
Thousands of people showed up at Ground Zero the following days to volunteer for months with search and rescue, to provide moral support, help feed workers, and remove the rubble.
Those volunteers and first responders didn’t care if you came from the wrong side of the tracks, who you went home to at night or the color of your skin. We were all just human beings that day. To honor their memory, in the same spirit of compassion, unity and strength, won’t you pledge your time or make a charitable donation on 9/11—the federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance?
Shortly after 9/11, David Paine and Jay Winuk started a non-profit organization called MyGoodDeed in honor of Jay’s brother, Glenn. Glenn was a volunteer firefighter and EMT who responded to the attack. Glenn died while attempting to save others stuck in the Twin Towers. Together with other families affected by the tragedy, MyGoodDeed secured the passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009. The Serve America Act officially marks September 11 as the National day of Service and Remembrance, so we can continue to honor today, and in the future, those courageous acts of the thousands of volunteers who serve our country. The goal for the National Day of Service and Remembrance is to bring back the sense of unity we had on 9/11, 2001 by working together to support our communities and help each other.
The Serve America Act expands programs overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Together with the 9/11 Day of Observance website, you can find a charity in your community to devote time or money. The goal of the organization is to make 9/11 the largest charitable day in the United States. However, they encourage all Americans to continue charitable work throughout the year.
If you cannot find a participating organization in your area, you can start your own project with help from CNCS. Through volunteermatch.org, I decided to sign up and volunteer with the Red Cross—not only on 9/11, but also for the rest of the year and years to follow.
Twelve years ago, America came together to show the world our ability to unite, show compassion and care through our unfaltering volunteer actions and above all—our resiliency to adversity.
Following the attack, President George W. Bush said, “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”
We will never forget those who have fallen. There is no better way to continue their legacy than paying it forward. If you do not already volunteer or donate, why not start on September 11, 2013 by helping out. I have pledged to perform a good deed on 9/11; won’t you?
How will you contribute and remember?
If you are looking for a charitable organization to donate your time or money to, Cheaper Than Dirt blog writers have recommended the following groups in the past: