9/11 Patriot Day and National Days of Service

Memorial plaque honoring fallen firefighters in New York City near the World Trade Center site. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 9-11: Once again, the White House has issued the annual declaration that Sept. 11 is officially Patriot Day and has added that Sept 9 through 11 are National Days of Service and Remembrance. The annual Patriot Day observance is mandated by U.S. Public Law No. 107-89, passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed by President Bush in December 2001. (Wikipedia has more details on the passage of the original Patriot Day legislation. Or, view a TIME tribute, 10 years later, with stories and photos from 40 men and women whose lives changed in 2001.))

Looking for events? This year, there are thousands of 9/11 events across the U.S. marking the 10th anniversary. ReadTheSpirit has published an overview of special programs, starting with New York City and Washington D.C.

Looking for resources to use in your church or community event? Our online magazine also published recommended resources with links to online prayers, reflections and other ideas you can use.

President Barack Obama signed the Serve America Act in 2009, asking each American to observe Sept. 11 by serving others. Aside from the parades and memorial speeches that appear in almost every community today, millions will be taking part in service. (Visit Serve.gov for more.)

This year, though, commemorations will reach far beyond parades and speeches. More than 24 artists will be showing their memorial artwork in New York, including two painters who mixed ash from the burning towers into their painted 9/11 collections. A Yahoo! News article interviewed Richard Drew, an AP photographer who caught the famous image, “Falling Man;” Drew says the dozens of people he photographed jumping out of their offices at the Twin Towers will always be a part of him. (Read the article here.) As the NFL season opens today, it will also pay tribute to “the American Spirit” with 9/11 ribbons and field logos, performances of “Taps” and monetary donations to memorials and related charities.

White House Declaration
of Patriot Day and National Days of Service, September 9-11

Friday evening, September 9, 2011, the White House issued this declaration:

Ten years ago, a bright September day was darkened by the worst terrorist attack on America in our Nation’s history. On this tenth anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we lift in prayer and remembrance the men, women, and children who died in New York City, in Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, and we honor the countless heroes who responded to senseless violence with courage and compassion. We continue to stand with their families and loved ones, while striving to ensure the legacy of those we lost is a safer, stronger, and more resilient Nation.

Since that day, a generation has come of age bearing the burden of war. The 9/11 Generation of service members and their families has stepped up to defend our security at home and abroad. They volunteer, knowing they might be sent into harm’s way, and they uphold the virtues of selflessness and sacrifice that have always been at the center of our Nation’s strength. We pay humble tribute to all those who serve in our Armed Forces, and to the thousands of brave Americans who have given their last full measure of devotion during this difficult decade of war.

First responders, law enforcement officials, service members, diplomats — the range of Americans who have dedicated themselves to building a safer world is awe-inspiring. We have put unprecedented pressure on those who attacked us 10 years ago and put al-Qa’ida on the path to defeat. Around the globe, we have joined with allies and partners to support peace, security, prosperity, and universal rights. At home, communities have come together to make us a stronger country, united by our diversity, our character, and our enduring principles.

Today, our Nation still faces great challenges, but this last decade has proven once more that, as a people, we emerge from our trials stronger than before. During these days of prayer and remembrance, a grateful Nation gives thanks to all those who have given of themselves to make us safer. And in memory of the fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and friends and loved ones taken from us 10 years ago, let us join again in common cause to build a more hopeful world.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11, 2011, as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. I ask that the people of the United States honor and remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved ones through prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight remembrance vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities. I invite people around the world to participate in this commemoration.

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.

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