September 11, 2001 will forever be remembered as the day terrorism struck the heart of America. On that day, in the four terrorist attacks levied against America, 2,977 innocents lost their lives, including 411 emergency services personnel. The unanimity of conviction and cause among all Americans following the tragedy had not been experienced in such scale since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 that brought the United States into World War II. Terrorists attempted to break the American spirit, to tear us apart, to strike fear in our hearts. They could not have failed more miserably.
Rather than divide us, thousands gave their time in the days, months and even years following 9/11 in service to the community. From rescue efforts to survivor support services, countless hours were given. As we shall always remember the tragedy of 9/11, we must also move forward. According to www.serve.gov, efforts began in 2002 to “establish a tradition of engaging in charitable service on 9/11 as an annual and forward-looking tribute to the 9/11 victims, survivors, and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks.” As a result of those efforts, Congress, in 2009, designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, let us pause to remember the tragedy of 9/11, but let us also celebrate the American spirit and dedication to service to the community. Organizations engaged in adapted and disability sport know the value of volunteerism and service. Without volunteers dedicated to serving the community we would not be able to provide many of the programs and services that change the lives of people with physical disability.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games concluded on Sunday with Team USA, comprised of 227 athletes that included 20 U.S. military veterans and active duty service members, earning 98 total medals placing the U.S. fourth in total medals behind China (231), Great Britain (120) and the Russian Federation (102). It is hard to say how many of those athletes were able to realize their Paralympic dream at least in part due to the efforts of a volunteer, but it is certain that for every Paralympian, there are hundreds more people with physical disability whose lives are touched each day by someone who has dedicated a portion of their lives to service to their community.
As we remember 9/11, let us also celebrate the American commitment to volunteerism and service that was so evident eleven years ago and remains just as strong today.
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