Also known as National Day of Service and Remembrance, Patriot Day is observed annually to pay respects to the 2,977 people who perished from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, as well as the first responders, service members and civilians who risked their lives to save others. In December of 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed September 11 as Patriot Day after signing a joint resolution of Congress that designated it a national day of mourning. Since this time, many of those who lost loved ones in the attacks have led the effort to take Patriot Day beyond memorial services and special tributes to evolve it into a national tradition of service driven by hope, and the intention to strengthen our nation by helping those in need.
Although it’s not a federal holiday, Patriot Day is a powerful reminder of the rewarding ways we can make a positive impact in our community, and honor the sacrifices and courage of those who put their own lives on the line. We turned to several sources including the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for inspiration on meaningful ways you can take part every year.
Observe a Moment of Silence: American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Americans are called to take a minute in silent contemplation, prayer or meditation at this time on Patriot Day.
Hang flags at half-staff: For those who display the United States flag inside or outside their home, be sure that it is flown at half-staff on this day. If you’re interested in hanging a flag but are unsure of proper etiquette, you can find “13 Rules for Displaying the American Flag” at Mental Floss.
Give blood: The American Red Cross reminds us that there is a constant and ongoing need for blood to meet the needs of patient care. The organization is now testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. To learn more, contact your local Red Cross.
Check out projects at Corporation for National and Community Service: The CNCS coordinates with 911Day.org and other organizations every year to help to turn a tragedy into a day of good by expanding opportunities to volunteer in honor of those victims and families that suffered the most from the events of September 11th. They’ve done the groundwork to make it easy and convenient to find a wide range of these activities in your area, which you can access at their site. In a quick search of opportunities, we found work as diverse as volunteer speaking engagements, support for hospice care and even help in testing apps for an anonymous expert peer support network to address mental health issues for youth and teens.
Support efforts to alleviate hunger in your community: Demand for food assistance has soared as food banks throughout the country deal with shortfalls of donations and volunteers due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties alone, Second Harvest Food Bank served 500,000 in August 2020, which was twice the number of those seeking food back in February of 2020.
To contribute time safely sorting and packing food, or to make donations to help them stock up, CNCS recommends starting at Feeding America or Food Pantries. Other suggestions are to help Meals on Wheels deliver meals and groceries to seniors, or to contact a nearby school district to find out whether you can help distribute food or supplies to local children and families. And if you’re moved to do more, consider hosting a virtual food drive— which the nonprofit Food Lifeline assures us is easy and suitable for both individuals and groups.
Donate medical equipment and supplies: If you have unneeded medical supplies, the CNCS recommends emailing FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center at email@example.com. Looking for more options? Check out “Where Can I Donate My Medical Supplies” at LovetoKnow..
Start an initiative yourself: If you are passionate about a personal cause and are so inclined to spearhead a venture yourself, the CNCS offers some helpful resources worth investigating. What’s more, you can register your project or event with them in order to spread the word. Check out “Self-Starter Project Ideas” at their site here for some guidance and suggestions that can spark your vision. A few of their ideas: form a group to make seniors’ homes safer and more navigable by installing safety features and making minor repairs (make sure work meets local code requirements), organize a disaster preparedness training using FEMA resources or arrange a virtual visit to a veterans center.
Make a financial contribution —9/11 funds are still doing good works: Finally, if you can’t break away from your job and other obligations at this time, it can be reassuring to hear that reputable charitable nonprofits continue to aid and honor 9/11 victims and their families. We found some excellent recommendations in Morgan Brinlee’s article “These 9/11 Charities Still Need Your Help.” Charity Navigator is also a reliable resource for finding highly-rated organizations that support those most affected by 9/11.