Participate in a Day of Service on 9/11
Yes, I was in NY on September 11th, 2001. In fact, I was 10 blocks north of the World Trade Center and watched with my naked eyes as the jet fighter planes arrived five minutes too late to stop the second plane attack on the towers.
It was a terrible day wherein I lost several friends. But that story is for another day.
What I try to remember about the days post 9/11 are the images of the country coming together, those who put aside their own health (and sometimes daily lives cross-country) to help in on-site rescue efforts. The waiting lines to donate blood were insane. It was like every doctor in the city rushed to the hospital. (But they waited for ambulances that never arrived). Once re-opened, our highways were filled with trucks driven by construction workers descending upon NYC to help lift the wreckage that was trapping expected survivors.
Apart from shock, everyone felt utter helplessness at the new reality. As Tuesday progressed into Friday, collectively as a nation we were all still hoping for the best, but it was becoming increasingly clear that the unimaginable had really happened.
And there was nothing we could do about it.
So we, in NYC, moved on as best we could to help the survivors, the families of the slain and those working tirelessly at Ground Zero, as it was newly minted.
At some point that week I had heard a tip from a fashionista friend, that the Hard Rock Cafe had set up a volunteer station to prepare sandwiches for recovery workers. All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I arrived on Saturday morning to discover that hundreds of other New Yorkers wanted to help too. There was no room left inside. So I snuck in.
And, I never have and probably never will enjoy making dozens of PB&Js as much as I did that morning.
Last year’s 9/11, was the first for which I didn’t cry. I was even able to celebrate a birthday with a really great friend that evening. But I felt guilty. I don’t want to forget 9/11. It’s an important day in my history and this nation’s history.
So, when President Obama signed legislation to federally-recognize September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance for the first time, I smiled. Our country deserves this.
September 11 is more than just about the tragedy of that horrible day in 2001, it is about the selflessness and service we all demonstrated as a nation in its aftermath.
In recognition of the first anniversary of the National Day of Service and Remembrance, the 9/11 Day of Service Website has volunteer activities listed. You can search by zip code, city, state and area of interest. I know what I’m doing Friday morning already. Do you?