We just passed the 12th anniversary of one of the most tragic days in recent history. Although most of us can’t recall what we had for breakfast a few days ago, we all retain vivid and detailed memories of 9/11. We remember it was a Tuesday morning and we know where we were when we heard the news. We can easily reconnect with the emotional and visceral feelings of horror, terror, powerlessness and deep sadness as we either attempted to call loved ones or obsessively watched the images of terrorism on the Internet and television. This is the nature of traumatic events. They stay vivid and accurate over time. For many years after 2001 each subsequent anniversary of 9/11 evoked those same powerful and overwhelming memories and feelings.
Recently, 9/11 has been given new meaning. As is often the case, when we evolve from Post-Traumatic Stress to Post-Traumatic Growth we emerge from horrible tragedy with a newfound sense of purpose. I was so moved to hear that 9/11 is now more than just a day of remembrance. In 2009, Congress officially designated September 11th as a “day of service” as well. Organizations and on-line websites have been created for the specific purpose of inviting Americans to commit to acts of kindness, volunteer their services to those in need, and to post their good deeds as a way to inspire others. People have responded in record numbers. More than 35 million Americans participate each year, turning 9/11 into a remarkable day of service. They are refurbishing homes, participating in food drives, volunteering and tutoring in schools, planting gardens in neighborhoods, and finding meaningful ways to support, honor, and express gratitude to first responders, recovery workers, veterans, soldiers, and military families.
Websites including www.serve.gov, www.911day.org, www.missioncontinues.org and www.greaterdccares911.kintera.org are just a few of the places where you can pledge to make a difference or get creative ideas about how you can participate in this important cause. This ongoing project is an amazing statement about our resiliency as human beings. A day of service illustrates the power of fighting back and meeting challenges with acts of kindness rather than bitterness. It represents our inherent goodness and our ability to thrive even after devastating circumstances. I urge you to honor the memories of everyone who was victimized in 9/11 and to honor the courage of every first responder by pledging to make this day, every year, a day of service for you and your family. Even though it is past September 11th, pledge something anyway, do it anytime, and hold the intention of honoring the wounded and the fallen when you do. Think of the extraordinarily positive energy that these acts of kindness and service generate, and trust that it makes a true difference in helping to heal the world.