The Upshot

Participating in the National Day of Service

On the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks in American history, memorial ceremonies, speeches, and dedications remind people of what was lost. Amid the grieving and reflection, many remember that today is also the National Day of Service.

The idea came about in 2002. The families and loved ones of the victims sought to honor the sacrifices of all those who perished in the attacks on September 11, 2001, and to  help instill a sense of ongoing unity in the American people, who are too often divided by politics, race, and religion.

Serve.gov writes, "The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance was established into law by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009, and is consistent with President Obama's overall call to service, United We Serve." Obama himself volunteered at DC Central Kitchen, where he helped prepare "a meal of chicken sausage gumbo, rice, a garden salad and cantaloupe wedges."

There are many ways in which Americans can and do participate. Some conduct food drives, others help educate about disaster preparedness, and others collect items for care packages for soldiers. Inspiring people to work together toward the country's greater good is what the movement strives to accomplish.

The site 911day.org allows visitors to share their plans on what they plan to do on Sept. 11. Prayer, forgiveness, and unity are common themes. One person writes, "I will donate blood in honor of those lost on 9/11." Web searches for "national day of service" and "donate blood" are both soaring.

In Miami, volunteers worked with members of the Miami Dolphins football team to send care packages to troops serving overseas. In Louisville, Kentucky, volunteers worked on a landscaping project for a local firehouse. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, "We show compassion through service and the work you all are doing with Service for Peace and National Day of Service is a model for everybody."

For ideas on how to get involved locally, check out Serve.gov.

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