It’s been more than two decades since the terrorist attacks of September 11, when the nation mourned the nearly 3,000 lives lost. While September 11, 2001, left an indelible mark on the United States, we have the opportunity to take back the day by turning the anniversary of 9/11 into a day of doing good.
This day has become a symbol of hope by uniting the goodwill and good deeds of the nation. The 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance can help pay tribute to those touched by the tragedies of this day, as well as keep hope for a better future alive. It is a chance to strengthen communities and pay tribute to those touched by the tragedies of this day, as well as keep hope for a better future.
9 ways you can engage with your community and do some good this 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance
VOLUNTEER: PROMOTE HUNGER RELIEF THROUGH MEAL-PACKING
In partnership with AmeriCorps and Feeding America-affiliated food banks across the nation, 9/11 Day is organizing hunger relief projects in cities around the world. Last year, 20,000 volunteers packed 6 million meals! You can get involved with this year’s event or sign up your team via their website.
DONATE: SUPPORT THE 9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum exists to preserve the memories of the lives lost and affected on September 11, 2001, and document the historical events preceding and following the attacks on that day. This museum, based out of the World Trade Center in New York City, is free and open to the public seven days a week. It showcases exhibitions with artifacts, images and personal stories. The museum thrives on donations from supporters who wish to keep the memory of this historical day, as well as the stories of those involved, alive. You can make a one-time donation or become a member to support this mission.
LISTEN & LEARN: REVISIT THE EVENTS SURROUNDING 9/11
Remembrance is part of observing the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, but education is also a crucial component. WNYC Studios, in partnership with The History Channel, created an eight-episode podcast titled Blindspot: The Road to 9/11. This series, which includes expert testimonials, interviews with government officials and even conversations with individuals linked with the attacks, provides a platform for listening and learning.
SERVICE: REMEMBER FIRST RESPONDERS WITH A THANK YOU AND A DOCUMENTARY
Thousands of men and women in service roles (first responders, military, police, transit authority and more) risked and sacrificed their lives before, during and after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. A simple thank you to those who work in service roles is a worthwhile act this September 11. Operation Gratitude invites you to join their 9/11 digital letter writing campaign by taking five minutes to write a letter through their digital platform. You can also watch the documentary 9/11: One Day in America to better understand what makes the heroes of 9/11 so extraordinary. The film was made in collaboration with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and documents the series of events that took place on this historic morning.
PURCHASE POWER: BUY FROM BUSINESSES THAT SUPPORT FIRST RESPONDERS
Using your purchase power to advocate for the causes you care about is another important element in leading a civically engaged life. Karmalize published a list of small businesses, including coffee and food shops as well as other types of retailers, that serve and support first responders. The list includes the locations of these businesses, as well as the commitment each has made to support the first responder community. If you’re in one of the locations listed, consider supporting one of these local small businesses. If not, consider seeking out businesses in your own community that are actively supporting first responders, veterans or survivors of line-of-duty death of a loved one.
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR: EXPLORE SUPPORT FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Social entrepreneurs identify needs that have not yet been met by traditional institutions, structures or systems, and lead creative and innovative solutions that drive change. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a unique opportunity for veterans and active duty military to receive entrepreneurship training through the Small Business Administration (SBA). This may include training for entrepreneurial-minded individuals who qualify for education benefits through The Post-9/11 GI Bill, The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and The Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). This is a great way for those in the military, whether veterans and active duty, to bring their ideas to life.
“Encouraging people to participate in community service on this day promotes civic engagement and a sense of duty to your community and the nation. It can lead to increased voter turnout, awareness of local issues, and participation in other civic activities”
— Katy Elder, vice president of corporate insights, Points of Light
VOTE: CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ABOUT YOUR CIVIC CONCERNS
While writing a letter to your elected officials and government representatives is always an excellent option for engaging in democracy, there are modern options that make contacting these officials easier. You can check out Resistbot, technology that allows you to either write or generate a letter using artificial intelligence (AI) voicing your concerns about issues like increased access to care for survivors affected by line-of-duty death, or better legislation for first responder mental health access.
VOICE: BE MINDFUL OF WHAT AND HOW YOU SHARE ON SOCIAL
Utilizing social media to make your voice heard can be beneficial. After all, these global platforms are a helpful way to disseminate information en masse and share with your networks about your priorities, as well as the causes and organizations you wish to support. But just as crucial as knowing how to use your voice is knowing how not to use your voice. In the case of days of remembrance like the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, being sensitive to what types of content you share or don’t share is key. Ragen PR Daily shares ideas on how to speak about this day of remembrance respectfully on social media and pitfalls to avoid when it comes to using your platforms sensitively.
WORK: JOIN THE #IWILL CAMPAIGN
Although you may not be able to actually to do your good deed on 9/11, you can still share your plans on September 11. Get simple instructions at 911day.org. Start by inviting your colleagues to join you by planning and sharing their own good deeds. 9/11 Day recommends that, if you’re running an organizational initiative, you should send out reminder messages on September 5 and again on September 11. Post your #IWill message on social media on September 11. Finally, be sure to track your participation and measure your impact. There are several easy to use and inexpensive tools that you can use to track and measure the number of good deeds that your colleagues post on social media, including Sprout Social, Brand24, and Hootsuite.
However you choose to participate in this year’s 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, know that any action taken – no matter how small – can contribute to the change you wish to see in your community and beyond. Creating a better, kinder world starts with you.