Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11: National Day of Service and Remembrance

Today the United States, and its friends around the world stop to reflect on the tragedy of eight years ago, when 2,819 people lost their lives at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

It is no less a day of reflection at ICP. ICP formally opened its door eight years ago, only a few months before 9/11. As we have grown over the past eight years, we have done so in a country and a world that, for better or worse, has been profoundly shaped by the events of that single autumn day. In years to come, future generations will look back and identify September 11, 2001, as a generational turning point – this day of tragedy that occurred just as the first forerunners of the Millennial generation graduated from high school and began college, and as the first cohort of the generation to follow was born.

And what has 9/11 come to mean for the young adults and teenagers of the Millennial generation, and for the children of the next? We have witnessed over the past eight years a growing call for civic engagement, for social responsibility. We have seen countless reports and studies over the past eight years that all say the same thing – young people value community. They value service. They value connection and the sharing of their stories with others. They value their role as not passive, powerless recipients of charity and “for your own good” proclamations and decrees, but as strong, integral actors in identifying and addressing community needs, challenges, and solutions. Young people are crucial resources in tackling economic downturn, global climate change, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, educational disparity, crime and many other critical community needs.

There is always much talk by older generations concerning how best to prepare the younger generations to tackle the severe, planet-wide, even life-threatening problems that will come to a head in the not-so-distant future. It is time for the older generations to recognize that young people are ready now. They have grown up and matured in a world shaped by 9/11. They have seen what marginalization, poverty, isolation, hostility and hatred have done. They are ready now to counter those effects by reaching out to others, to their community, to engage in service to address the root causes of those issues. They are ready now to heal the damage.

And so at ICP, we are encouraged that the tendency of the past eight years has been toward embracing 9/11 as not just a day for remembrance of the victims of hatred and tragedy, but a day of service to the greater good – a day to reach out to our community, to remind ourselves of the ties that bind us, to treat each other with compassion and understanding, and to join together to face down the issues and challenges that can so easily divide us.


More news about support for service in connection to the National Day of Service and Remembrance:

Visit the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance website

Read about the designation of September 11 as the National Day of Service and Remembrance in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Read President Obama’s proclamation of the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

Learn about the service projects that thousands of Americans will be engaged in today, and find an opportunity to serve here.

Mayors of some of the largest cities in the US have announced the creation of a Cities in Service” initiative.

Tonight in New York City, My Good Deed and ServiceNation will host a National Day of Service and Remembrance Commemoration, which is slated to have appearances and speeches by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Governor David Paterson, New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and performances by entertainers including platinum-selling singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, Anjulie, the Harlem Boys and Girls Choir, Grammy Award winners The Roots, and Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik.

Find out more about ICP’s work in engaging young people worldwide in service at

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