When we reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, the horror and pain of that day is often mingled with the hope and comfort of the many images and stories of heroism. Our generation had never seen such outpouring of concern and support from Americans, coast to coast. From those who opened their homes to the stranded, to those who passed out water bottles to first responders near the scenes of tragedy, we were buoyed in our darkest hours by the values and spirit that has defined this country since its founding.
Today, 15 years later, as we pause to reflect this Sunday on Patriot Day, many of us may wonder, “Where has that spirit gone?” You may hear others wonder aloud whether the America reflected in those days of fellowship and unity is gone, never to be recovered.
But there is one group that still believes.
Our men and women in uniform. And they have arguably carried the biggest burden and paid a heavy cost since that fall of 2001.
We have talked with men and women who joined specifically because of the attacks of September 11. Some were mere children at the time, but they carried that calling with them until they were old enough to volunteer. Still others talk about an opportunity given to them, or to their immigrant parents, and of a need to give back. In the 15 years that Operation Homefront has worked with military and wounded warrior families, we have been amazed time and again at the love and reverence that generations of Americans have for this country.
And when reflecting on their service, the vast majority talk about bonds tighter than family, in some cases, and the privilege of serving with the finest men and women that America has to offer.
It is in these conversations that we see the core values of who we are as a nation, and the resiliency and strength that allows us to weather the darker times.
The men and women of our armed forces come from our communities. The honor, courage, commitment and call to service comes from the communities they were raised in. In short, they are America.
And they are not alone.
Support for military families comes from all walks of life. We see it at the events we host around the country. We often partner with other organizations serving other needs in their community, such as mental health and food insecurity. We see the young and the old all doing something to make their little part of the world a better place.
Americans answered the call then, and they continue to answer the call today.
Many say there seems to be a lot of anger in the air these days, whether it’s talk shows, the web, or social media. They wonder how to make it better. But we ask you to take a moment and really look around and see that your fellow Americans are still phenomenally friendly, caring, generous, and quick to help when help is needed. Sometimes the opportunity to keep the spirit alive comes to you, other times you need to seek it out. But it is there.
This September 11 anniversary, we encourage everyone to find a way to keep the spirit alive in their community. It does not always have to be a donation of money or goods, it can be your time, an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on. A smile to a stranger or stopping to take a moment to talk to someone.
doing so, we can, as in the words of President Bush in his address to the nation, “None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”
Our country’s service members, veterans, and their families have all Answered The Call to serve our nation, sacrificing much in the process. Service comes with many challenges – being apart as a reslt of deployment, the loss of a family member, adjusting to a new community and career, hitting a financial obstacle. Putting the needs of our country before their own, our military personnel and their families have always been committed to protecting us all.
If you are looking for a way to get involved in supporting our military families, we invite you to join our Answer The Call campaign.