Sep 11, 2020
In Gloucester, it was a perfect late summer morning. The sky was blue with a few fluffy clouds. The air was mild—warm enough to not need a sweater, but not hot. I was at work and just getting into my daily schedule when we received a phone call from a co-worker’s husband. A commercial jet had hit one of the World Trade Center towers in New York. While we found it tragic, we thought it was an accident. And then the second plane hit. That day and its aftermath changed our lives forever.
Today is September 11—19 years after the terrorist attack, which killed close to 3,000 individuals and injured many thousand more. This event was a pivotal moment in our history—similar in impact to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and the 2020 pandemic. These events changed forever the way we see and respond to the world. Does anyone alive today not remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard that the towers had been attacked?
By a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress on December 18, 2001, September 11 was designated as Patriot Day. Since then, all three sitting Presidents have proclaimed September 11 as Patriot Day, calling on all individuals and organizations to honor those lost on September 11, 2001, including the many heroic first responders who lost their lives. A tradition has begun to honor Patriot Day with community service. In 2019, President Trump’s proclamation stated “…I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost….” The full proclamation can be read at www.whitehouse.gov.
Anyone interested in participating in community service can contact one of the myriad of non-profit organizations on the North Shore. Lists of these amazing agencies can be found through the online Business Directories of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce (www.northshorechamber.org or 978-774-8565), the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce (www.capeannchamber.com or 978-283-1601), or the Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce (www.greaterbeverlychamber.com or 978-232-9559). Or, you can call and a friend or loved one, who may be lonely and in need of a friendly chat, or pickup some trash along the road in your neighborhood, or stop at the Dollar Store and pickup a few school supplies that a family experiencing financial difficulties might need. Community service does not have to be a huge task or a long term commitment—service can take the form of small projects that improve our world.
People aged fifty-five and over who would like to volunteer in their community can contact SeniorCare at 978-281-1750 and ask to speak with the RSVP Department. RSVP is partially funded through AmeriCorp. AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs, that help to improve lives and foster civic engagement. RSVP volunteers serve in a variety of ways—delivering Meals on Wheels lunches to home-bound seniors, knitting blankets for babies, driving seniors to medical appointments, assisting at food pantries and Senior Centers. The list goes on and on.
As we enter the final seven and a half weeks of our nation’s election cycle, there are those who would divide this country. Maybe we can stop and remember the unity we all felt nineteen years ago, and try to hear each other a little better and look beyond our personal prejudices and needs.