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Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 a Day for Remembrance not for Service

8 years ago today our country was attacked by terrorists and we lost 2,740 Americans.

September 11th is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life even though I don’t live in New York City. I live approximately 1 hour from Shanksville, Pennsylvania where Flight 93 rests in a beautiful memorial built to honor the 40 Americans who died there that fateful day.

On that gorgeous September morning in 2001, I had just arrived at work when the first plane hit the 1st World Trade Center Tower. Then, I watched in shock as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd Tower in Manhattan. I thought I was watching a movie. It was surreal. My mind was whirling and telling me, “This isn’t happening.” “This is trick photography.” But when both World Trade Center buildings collapsed, one right after the other, I knew with horrified dread, it wasn’t a movie, but a stark reality.

I immediately called my husband, who was off from work due to a work related injury, and told him to pick up our son from school. I left work and joined my family. We watched television the rest of the day; trying to grasp the fact that our Country was under attack by terrorists who were using OUR domestic planes as weapons. When we heard about the plane that went down in Shanksville, we realized even we weren’t impervious from terrorists. Another 10 or 15 minutes and that plane could’ve landed on our house!

We hugged one another and our boys more times than I could’ve counted that day. We couldn’t stop being grateful that we were home— safe. We called our family and friends and told them we loved them. The brutal reality of that devastating ordeal brought forth the fact that our lives were fragile— ALL life is fragile.

Now on September 11th my family and I spend the day remembering that once beautiful, serene morning which spiraled into a horrific tale which told us that our country is not safe and that evil does reside here and it can strike anytime. We don’t know anyone that died 8 years ago, but we say silent prayers that the families who did lose loved ones found peace. We also watch memorials…tears still fill my eyes and at times I can barely speak.

This year September 11th is being tainted by The National Service Act, which President Obama signed into law. It was designated that because, they say, it’s a way for America to remember the spirit of the community, volunteerism and service response that came on September 11, 2001.

I am very upset about this selected date because September 11th is a day to reminisce, mourn and revere those who died on that fateful day. We lost 2,740 Americans on September 11th and it is a sacred day for family and friends to honor and remember those who lost their lives.

Our commitment to service and volunteerism was actually realized on September 12th, the day AFTER.

Representative Peter King said, “America came together in the aftermath of 9/11”.

The Serve.gov web-site states, “…in the days after the September 11, 2001 tragedy.”

Two quotes about the aftermath of service. It’s a well known fact that communities and Americans everywhere assisted the city of New York on September 12th. I worked with a man who drove to New York and volunteered for the clean-up efforts. This national day of volunteerism, to show our spirit of community, is for people to support their community and it should be the day AFTER, which is when communities everywhere actually got together and helped our firefighters, police officers and clean-up crews. Or it could be any of the other 200+ days we have available on our calendar.

I’m not sure, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think most of the families and friends of our fallen Americans would not appreciate this day being diminished in this way. Just as I don’t think Labor Day, Memorial Day or even Martin Luther King, Jr. Day should be over-shadowed by any other ritual. They are days that stand alone— for very good reason. September 11th is a solitary day. It’s a private day to remember our fallen Americans; it is NOT a day of service. I am deeply saddened that it is being used in this manner.
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