Even 10 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it’s hard to imagine that date on the calendar being associated with anything positive. David Paine plans to change that.   

Even 10 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it’s hard to imagine that date on the calendar being associated with anything positive. David Paine plans to change that.   

The co-founder of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is working toward making the anniversary not just a day of thoughtful reflection, but one in which all Americans unite in the way they did in 2001.

A way to help

In the aftermath of the attacks, many Americans found themselves recovering from the initial shock only to discover how helpless they felt. Those who didn’t live in or near New York, Washington, D.C., or Shanksville, Pa., didn’t necessarily have a way to help.   

According to Paine, many still feel that way.

“Even though it’s been 10 years, 9/11 is still unfinished business,” he said.

There are still people out there who want to pay tribute somehow, and the Day of Service and Remembrance gives them a way to do that, he said.

People can help in any way they choose. They can volunteer for a local nonprofit organization, or they can do a favor for an elderly neighbor. The point is simply to remember we’re all a part of a larger community.

“It’s about each of us stopping our lives for a moment to help someone else,” he said.
    
The origins

Like many Americans, Paine found himself wanting to help in some way after the attacks.

A California resident for several years, Paine had been born and raised in New York and felt especially connected to the tragedy. He worked in public relations and marketing and decided to use his professional skills to make the anniversary a positive day.

Doing good on the anniversary of the attacks not only pays tribute to those who responded in the aftermath, but Paine hopes it will remind people of the solidarity of all Americans.

“It captures the spirit of unity and rekindles it to some degree,” Paine said. “This is not just about what happened on 9/11. It’s about what happened on 9/12.”

Happy anniversary

Jay Winuk, Paine’s cofounder, lost his brother, a volunteer EMT, in the collapse of the World Trade Center, and several other people who suffered personal loss participate in the Day of Service and Remembrance as well. Paine said they embrace the idea as a way to have the date Sept. 11 mean something good.

“They want to see something positive come from the events of 9/11,” he said. “This type of service and tribute can be everlasting.”

Long-term

Interest in the Day of Service and Remembrance has picked up quite a bit this year with the 10th anniversary approaching, Paine said. Corporate sponsors have donated millions of dollars, and people are already laying out their plans for September.

Organizations in every part of the country are participating, Paine said. Some standouts include New York Cares, the USO, AARP and Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the children affected by 9/11.

In the long-term, Paine hopes to make the Day of Service a part of the American culture, ensuring that future generations won’t forget the significance of the day. He has lesson plans on his website for teachers and mentors to use with elementary, middle and high school students.

More information about the Day of Service and Remembrance is available at www.911dayofservice.org.