America always rises to the challenges of the times. We have a remarkable capacity for unity in the response to tragedy. This was truly evident in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001.
As President Obama said in his weekly radio address this weekend:
“Instead of turning inward with grief, we’ve honored the memory of those we lost by giving back to our communities, serving those in need, and reaffirming the values at the heart of who we are as a people. That’s why we mark September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Because we are one American family. And we look out for each other – not just on the difficult days, but every day.”
Yesterday, President Obama spent time visiting wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He and First Lady Michelle Obama addressed9/11 Families and survivors at a session at the Pentagon. Vice President Biden and Interior Secretary Salazar visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA, where 40 passengers and crew heroically resisted a team of hijackers, losing their lives but averting an even greater calamity in the process. And Secretary Napolitano traveled to New York City to attend a memorial service at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
In addition, in coordination with the Corporation for National and Community Service and The Mission Continues, Administration officials participated in a service activity in the Washington DC area, working alongside veterans, active-duty service members and military families.
9/11 is seared into our national consciousness. Yet, when we give our talent and time to help others, we honor the memories of those that were lost and preserve the spirit of solidarity that flourished in the aftermath of the attack. Through service, we can maintain this flame and ensure that their legacy lives on indefinitely.
Jonathan Greenblatt is Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.