Honor 9/11 by Volunteering in Your Corner of the World
Nine years ago, for most of America, our world changed. Here in Annapolis, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Washington D.C., where many friends and neighbors work in the city and metro area, a common question is “Where were you on 9/11?” By a strange twist of fate I was working in D.C., no more than 50 yards from the White House. It was a horrible and frightening day that included a White House bomb squad lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue and half a dozen binoculars sweeping the sky. As I was trying to get my head around what what going on and leave the area I asked a Secret Service agent what they were looking for. The answer- another plane. Incomprehensible.
And yet the question most pressing to me right now is not where I was then but where I am now. Yes, the world changed that day. But my world has changed many times since then. I married an amazing woman, I have two young sons, I started my own business. I have a dog. I crashed a car. I went to graduate school. I published my first fiction. To say the things I think and care about today are different from what they were almost a decade ago is a vast understatement.
I care about the world now in a way that I couldn’t even imagine then. When I was a Boy Scout in my teens there was an unwritten rule that we were to leave the woods (and the world) a better place than we found it. Then, it meant hike your trash back out with you. Now it means so much more. With a five year old and a two year old inspecting and digesting my every move I feel more than ever the need to lead by example, to make the world better for them and to have them witness it, to teach them that it will someday be their job to make the world better. By volunteering, by giving, by understanding. By reaching out in every way possible to make the world better.
In the midst of this recession my wife suggested I sign up to coach my son’s soccer team. As if I needed yet another thing on my plate. Then when the coach coordinator said that our first game would be on 9/11 it all made sense. After just a single practice to have a dozen parents thank me for coaching and giving something to their child-making a difference no matter how small-how could I not do it?
As hard and bad as the world can seem on a day like 9/11, and as difficult as things seem in this recession, there are small things we can do. We make the world better. We can start right now, right here. We won’t fix the economy tomorrow or create world peace, but by starting here and making our corner better we are making the world better. There are a million ways to give something back right now, a million ways to make our world better. Pick one, any one. Coach a team, give blood, donate old books, build a playground or just sit down and write a check or click the donate button on a cause you love. I know what I am doing tomorrow-I’ll be on a grassy field, bright orange soccer shirt on and whistle around my neck making 22 kids happy. So go do something. I assure you that within minutes of doing whatever it is you decide to do, someone will thank you for it. And not only will someone somewhere be better for it, you will too.
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