Turning 9/11 ‘Patriot Day’ into a National Day of Service & Remembrance

“As we remember the victims, their families, and the heroes who stood up during one of our country’s darkest moments, I invite all Americans to reclaim that abiding spirit of compassion by serving their communities in the days and weeks ahead. From volunteering with a faith-based organization, to collecting food and clothing for those in need … each of us can do something.”
President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation for Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: Bow your head in remembrance and lend a hand in your community, as the United States marks Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, in memory of the almost 3,000 men and women who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Though not a federal holiday, flags are flown at half-staff; a moment of silence is observed at 8:46 a.m. (Wikipedia has details.) Originally deemed “Patriot Day” in 2002, the day was later renamed by President Barack Obama, in 2012. (Read a White House Proclamation here.) In synch with its new name, Obama urged Americans to observe 9/11 with not only a moment of silence, but with some type of volunteer service to the community.

As a special treat for ReadTheSpirit this week, the noted peacemaker and poet Ken Sehested is allowing us to share with readers his latest poem—reflecting on ways that we may find hope and courage in light of 9/11 and other frightening global tragedies.


CATHOLIC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has gathered liturgical resources for Catholic congregations wishing to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11.  Bishops’ statements on the day, along with other materials for reflection, are also available on the USCCB website. And that’s not all: Most mainline denominations produced worship resources for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which still are available online.

PROTESTANT: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a denomination Read The Spirit is highlighting in its author interview this week, provides this free 8-page PDF of worship ideas to recall the traumatic events of 9/11. The United Methodist Church maintains an online portal called Making Peace after 9/11, which has links to congregational materials and inspirational news items. The Presbyterian Church (USA) offers ideas for services of Hope and Healing in light of 9/11. Of course, there’s much more online, developed by various church-related peace groups and individual congregations, but these links we’ve listed provide the most extensive resources. If you spot something you’d like us to mention, email us at: [email protected]

JEWISH: Many Jewish groups assembled terrific resource guides for the 10th anniversary of 9/11—still inspirational reading for individuals and groups. Check out pages by the UJA-Federation of New York, and the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

ACROSS THE U.S.: There are many regional events across the U.S.—so check local news media in your part of the country. In Kansas, for example, the Patriots’ Run once again will gather hundreds of U.S. runners and approximately 1,000 more will take part in Afghanistan, all to remember those lost on September 11, 2001.  What began as a small-scale commemorative run has evolved into a full running club, even drawing athletes from Brazil to participate. Charities like Wounded Warriors, Voices of September 11th and S.A.F.E. Return will benefit from funds raised from the race.

Similar events kick off around the country, such as for residents of Brandon, Fla., who will pay tribute to the victims of 9/11 with their annual Remembrance Ride—a motorcyclist event put on by the local post of American Veterans. Along with the memorial, organizers hope to focus attention on those currently serving in the military and civilian first responders. In its first five years, the Remembrance Ride has raised more than $25,000 for local charities; a barbecue dinner, auction, raffles, vendors and live entertainment will also ensue this year.

To find a volunteer service opportunity, visit United We Serve: www.Serve.gov.

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