Just as I was settling into my day, I got a call from my mom. "Turn on your television. Your brother is NOT flying." My brother is an American Airlines pilot, out of Washington, D.C. With family members in New York City and Washington D.C., it was to be a long, prayerful day and night.
As the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001 approached, we paused to remember. We remember where we were the moment the unthinkable and unimaginable happened, and how we felt as we began to process the information and images. We remember urgently checking on each one of our family members and friends, and we remember how it felt to finally know they were safe. Or perhaps we received some very sad news, like so many of our fellow Americans. And we remember how excruciating that felt.
We remember how it felt to come together as one nation in the aftermath. We were unified in our grief. We were unified in our resolve to reach out and help those who were personally affected. We put all differences aside as we renewed our pledge of allegiance to the United States of America. We truly felt and acted as "one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all." And, we came to understand that American life, as we knew it, was over.
And, somehow ten years have passed. As we reflect upon the past decade, we ask ourselves who have we become as a nation since September 11, 2001? And, who have we become as Individuals? As we reflect on these questions and so much more, the airwaves are full of programming in remembrance.
New York Says Thank You is one such program. www.newyorksaysthankyou.org The New York says Thank You Foundation sends volunteers from New York City each year on or near the 9/11 Anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters. Inspired by a 5-year-old boy, the volunteers commemorate the extraordinary love and generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans from all across the United States in the days, weeks and months following 9/11. New York City fire fighters and family members of those who perished are among the volunteers who go out and help communities rebuild.
Action America has challenged American Citizens to make September 11, 2011 the biggest day ever of volunteerism. www.actionamerica.com Action America encouraged us to make September 11, 2011 a day of positive action by becoming actionists. By Acting it Forward, we can randomly contribute to someone and spark a positive chain that benefits many. By Acting the Part, we can become a role model for a child.
We cannot reflect on the past decade without remembering the extreme sacrifices made by the members of our Military personnel and their families. The Wounded Warrior Project provides assistance to thousands of returning injured soldiers and their families through programs and services that meet the needs of injured service members. www.woundedwarriorproject.com
The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum honors those lost in the attacks of September 11 while also recognizing those who survived and risked their lives to save others, and the compassion of all who provided support in the darkest of times. It is intended to serve as a catalyst for the future to foster understanding and peace in the larger world community. www.national911memorial.org
Clearly, these organizations have many things in common. What stands out is that while they care very much about remembering 9/11/01, they also want us to remember 9/12/01, and how American came together for a time. Each organization is encouraging us to come together once again.
They are helping America to use one of our darkest, saddest experiences to remember our goodness and our greatness. They are challenging us to get up off our collective couch, and unplug from the bad, sad news of the day. They are inspiring us to use whatever talents and resources we have to help those in need. They are not looking to the government; they are looking to "we the people."