The overwhelming feeling on 9/11 for many of us was helplessness. We were powerless to stop what we saw unfolding on our TVs. All we could do was sit and pray.
Ten years later, I think that's the overriding emotion that sticks with me. As sad and angry as I was, it was the helplessness that was the worst.
A year later, some of the families of the victims of 9/11 wanted to turn that feeling of helplessness around. They began urging people to turn 9/11, not into a day of sorrow, but into a day of service -- a day where we help our fellow Americans. These family members want us to remember the best of 9/11 -- the way this country came together to help and support each other in one of its darkest hours. In 2009, Congress formally declared 9/11 to be the National Day of Service and Remembrance.
And what better way to pay tribute to those who lost their lives that day, especially those who gave up their lives to help others?
One of the last acts Jesus did with His disciples was to serve them. Before they sat down to their last meal together, He washed their feet, a task reserved for the lowest servant in the household. Then, he admonished His disciples to follow His example by serving one another. "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet." (John 13:14)
As we remember those who died on 9/11, make it a point to use some of your time on Sunday to serve someone else. Follow Jesus' example to turn what was a day of national mourning into a day of service, a chance to be the arms and feet of Jesus to someone else.
Your act of service doesn't have to be big. You can take a meal to an elderly neighbor, rake the leaves of the single woman next door or participate in a more organized service project. Check out Serve.gov for more on the National Day of Service and Remembrance. You'll find a list of projects in your area.
You can also check out the KLOVE radio website. The national Christian radio station is asking its listeners to Make a Difference on 9/11. Their goal is to get 1 million people to commit to serve someone else on 9/11.
Check with your church. Some churches are putting together projects where you can serve on 9/11.
By turning 9/11 into a national day of service, we take control of how we remember the day. We honor the memories of those who died, and we thwart the wishes of the terrorists who would like us to continue to cower in fear. What better way to teach our kids that good can come out of evil than to turn a day of tragedy into a day of caring for others?