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United Way Blog

Stand Up as a People Today

“Our entire nation is on edge but will we just move on or stand up as a people and change this course?”

This is how we felt on September 11, 2001. We grieved because innocent people – and our ideals and beliefs as a nation – were attacked on our soil. We felt on edge and unsafe.

That particular sentence, however, was written just over a month ago, in the aftermath of lethal acts of terror in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

It was part of a longer statement by the leaders of United Way and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. The statement also said, “Families today are more isolated and have fewer meaningful connections with neighbors, coworkers, and members of their communities. We need to recognize everyone’s humanity in our daily lives, as we walk down the street, are standing in line, in our offices or shopping.

“We need to remember that love is at the heart of the American spirit and the values that have served as a beacon to so many … We need to understand that the solutions are not just for others to act on, we have to take personal responsibility to love one another more and to show care and compassion.” 

Just as resources are mobilized to counter the threat of terrorism, we can mobilize to show care and compassion. Tomorrow is the National Day of Service and Remembrance, when we honor the victims, survivors and those who rose up in service on and after 9/11.

Tomorrow, we will turn a day of tragedy into a day of something good.

Doing something good is how we push back on those who attack and undermine our country, here or abroad. Through kindness and compassion, we have the power to change our communities, our country and our world.

For example, with support from the Home Depot Foundation, United Way of the Piedmont and Christmas in Action will make 9/11 a better day this year by deploying volunteers to build a wheelchair ramp for a veteran in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

A meaningful volunteer project like this is a microcosm of – and good practice for – how we stand up as a people. It’s how we build and strengthen community, with meaningful connections. It’s how we integrate every person into our community, one act of service at a time. It’s how we engage more people and push fewer to the margins. This is how we take personal responsibility for one another.

Today is a great day to recognize humanity in every person. Stand up for the common good, together, in honor of this day and with hope for every other. Turn tragedy into good. Volunteer.

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.