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United Way Blog

Remember 9/11: Honor, Serve, and Unite

As difficult as the memory of 9/11 is, every September I am grateful that Americans honor the many sacrifices of that day through the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance (9/11 Day).

On the 20th anniversary of the attacks, volunteers across the country and around the world will unite to reject hatred and violence and to strengthen their communities. For example, we are proud to partner with AmeriCorps, the steward of 9/11 Day, to support 14 local United Ways in engaging 3,000 volunteers to learn about the events of 9/11 and to create more than 11,400 Family Emergency Preparedness Starter Kits. The kits will be distributed during the month of September, which is National Preparedness Month.

United Way volunteers will create kits of emergency supplies (e.g., non-perishable snacks, flashlight, whistle, first-aid kit, wipes) with guidance for creating and practicing a disaster preparedness plan. For volunteers who cannot participate in person, United Way offers an online letter-writing platform for virtual volunteers to write an encouraging note to families who will receive the kits and to first responders in their community.

In addition to AmeriCorps, we are particularly grateful to two of our corporate sponsors for their support. The Home Depot donated over 380,000 disposable masks that will be included in the emergency kits, and Oportun engaged multi-lingual employees to translate essential 9/11 emergency preparedness kit materials from English into Spanish to reach a broader audience.

Other United Ways are offering many ways to honor, serve, and unite on 9/11 Day. In Binghamton, NY, for example, United Way of Broome County is hosting their annual "Day of Caring" event on September 10 and 11. Volunteers can participate in hundreds of projects hosted by schools, parks, churches, and other organizations.

During the Galesburg, IL Labor Day parade - the longest continually running Labor Day parade in the United States - the Budweiser Clydesdales will carry the Official 9/11 Flag of Honor, which includes the names of all 2,983 people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and during the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. With support from Global Youth Justice, United Way of Knox County has planned a 9/11 event where area youth will read aloud the names and brief bios of 50 victims and raise the flag in a special ceremony at the fire department. The event is part of an effort to read all the names and fly the Flag of Honor in 60 communities nationwide.

Victor Hugo wrote, "Whatever causes night in our souls may leave stars." In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Americans stepped up in unprecedented ways to support rescue and recovery efforts and one another. On the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, volunteers will shine like stars to honor, serve, and unite.

Be a star. Join us in serving your community on 9/11 Day and throughout the year.