Tuesday marks the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks. While there will be fewer organized events this anniversary than in years past, there are countless ways to reflect on the events of the day, honor the victims, and feel connected to your community. Here are some ideas on where to start:
1. Donate Blood
In the days following 9/11, blood donations soared. With Americans looking to provide immediate assistance to those injured in the attacks, the country’s blood banks collected 600,000 more units in the fall of 2001 than they would have otherwise.
Today, with the Red Cross’ national blood supply having recently reached a 15 year low, going to a local blood bank and donating is among the most important contributions you can make to your community.
2. Attend a Memorial
In addition to the Official World Trade Center Site Memorial Ceremony in lower Manhattan, there are a number of events throughout New York City marking the anniversary. These include the Remembrance Service at Trinity Church, concerts in Central Park and Rockefeller Center, and a choreographed dance in Josie Robertson Plaza.
Even if you’re far from New York, Washington D.C., or Shanksville, PA, there is a good chance there is a commemoration of some kind in your vicinity. A quick Google search should lead you to an event in your area.
3. Stop by Your Local Firehouse or Police Precinct to Say Thank You
Following 9/11, Americans paused to recognize the valor of our first responders, police officers, and firefighters; taking the time to thank them during this year's anniversary speaks volumes. Without question, these men and women act as heroes every day. In 2010, NYPD officers responded to approximately 3.5 million 911 calls throughout the five boroughs. It’s hard to imagine living in a society without uniformed personnel watching out for our safety. Thankfully, we don’t have to.
4. Sign Up for the National Day of Service
Since 2009, September 11th has been officially declared The National Day of Service and Remembrance. On serve.gov, you can sign up for a service project, find volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood, or check out where others have been pitching in on the National Service Blog. If you’re in a time crunch but feel inclined to give back, consider bringing canned goods to a local food pantry. The general theme of The National Day Of Service is to reach out and help others, which leaves plenty of room for creativity.
5. Fly an American Flag
Immediately after 9/11, American flag sales skyrocketed, with some manufacturers wiped of their entire inventory within days. This September 11th, you can proudly wave Old Glory and show your support for the country. Don’t have a suitable place to hang the flag? You can always post a photo of one on your Facebook page.
6. Keep Partisanship to a Minimum
As election season reaches a fever pitch, especially in the aftermath of the conventions, it is all too easy to disparage your candidate’s opponent over social media or to friends and family. But today, as both the Romney and Obama campaigns suspend their (largely negative) television commercials, consider taking a brief hiatus from heated political rhetoric.
7. But Take a Minute to Read About Global Affairs
We live in a hyper-globalized world, where events taking place on the other side of the globe can profoundly affect local issues. Fortunately, with the help of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, a quick tutorial in foreign affairs is only a mouse click away. Consider browsing a news outlet outside of your normal information-gathering repertoire (BBC and Al-Jazeera are good places to start), and see what they choose to cover. There has never been a more pivotal moment to be informed and assume your global citizenship.
8. Appreciate America
Whether you are watching live coverage of the ceremony at Ground Zero, reflecting before the Tribute in Light, catching up on current events, or just enjoying the forecasted cloudless afternoon in New York City, take a moment to appreciate living in a country where freedom is cherished, diversity is celebrated, and justice is enforced.