September 11 Day Of Service

All of us who were living on September 11, 2001 probably remember where we were when we heard the news. It’s hard to believe that there is an entire generation of young people who don’t know a pre-9/11 world.

They also are living in a world where divisive politics define the tone of all things. They haven’t experienced a time when Americans were united under one flag without regard to politics. Remember how people came together? While first responders rushed to help, the rest of us gave blood, gathered supplies, prayed and did what we could to help in our own way.

Now it’s an official day of service. This brings me hope as our nation badly needs to embrace unity and service to others.

I’ll be spending my day volunteering in my community and I am grateful for the opportunity to do some good.

The pictures are from the memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. – hallowed ground where a plane full of strangers worked together to make the impossible decision to crash in a field rather than allow terrorists to reach their destination.

May none of us ever have to face such a choice.


“With almost no time to decide, [your loved ones] gave the entire country an incalculable gift. They saved the Capitol from attack. They saved God knows how many lives. They saved the terrorists from claiming the symbolic victory of smashing the center of American government. … They allowed us to survive as a country that could fight terror and still maintain liberty and still welcome people from all over the world from every religion and race and culture as long as they shared our values, because ordinary people given no time at all to decide did the right thing.”
—President Bill Clinton in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in 2011

If you haven’t been to the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksvile, PA, it is awe inspiring. Click here to read about it.

On the twentieth anniversary of this horrible day, I encourage you to do something meaningful. Take a moment to learn about a victim, perform a random act of kindness., or thank a first responder. Talk to a young person about why this day is important because we now have a generation of kids and young adults who don’t remember 2001 and they don’t know.

Try to remember the weeks following 9/11 when we all were united by our patriotic spirit and try to act more like that.

Lest We Forget

Nineteen years. It’s hard to believe but the September 11 terrorist attacks on America were nineteen years ago.

If you think about nothing else today, I want you to remember two things.

Nearly 3,000 people died that day. I’m sure that none of them woke up thinking this morning would be their last.

This tragedy reminded us all that what unites us is more important than what divides us.

I encourage you to live this day well and to seek common ground with your fellow Americans rather than focus on our differences. Be kind to people who are different than you regardless of how they look or how much money they have.

The picture above is from the Flight 93 Memorial at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Go and allow yourself plenty of time to explore, learn and absorb the enormity of it all.

It’s Patriot Day in America. Raise your flag, be safe and choose wisely.

Remembering September 11th


Has is really been eighteen years? I was a young newspaper editor that terrible day. I’ll never forget how blue the sky was as I drove to work, shaken by the news coming in from New York, Washington, DC and rural Pennsylvania. How could something so terrible happen on such a beautiful day?

These places seemed so far away and yet the losses hit close to home.

All these years later, it’s still hard to process the devastation. It’s still hard to imagine so many souls lost in a single building. It’s hard to imagine having the courage to crash a plane in a field rather than wait for terrorists to reach their intended destination.

I visited the site at Shanksville, PA again last fall to see the beautiful park dedicated to the forty passengers and crew aboard Flight 93. I wrote about that experience last year. You can read it here. 

Eighteen years ago, we said we would never forget. But with each passing year, we find ourselves moving further and further from the memory. Today there is a generation of young people who were too young in 2001 to remember these events and those who weren’t even born.

The people aboard Flight 93 understood what was happening to them. They called their loved ones, said their prayers and chose to attack their attackers, crashing their plane into a field and narrowly missing a village and a school.

Out of tragedy came heroism and, as long as we remember their bravery, their sacrifices are not in vain. If you have kids who don’t know this story, I hope you’ll tell them about it. Tell them about Flight 93 and tell them about the brave first responders who ran toward danger while everyone else was running for safety. Tell them about the people who went about their lives that morning, not realizing it would be their last.

There are thousands of stories of ordinary people who died unnecessarily and who did extraordinary things for strangers. Whether you can visit one of the memorials or simply read about them online, learn their stories and remember them.