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Why the 9/11 National Day of Service is a wonderful idea for our children

Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy  September 11, 2013 03:53 PM

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9-11.jpgAs I sat in traffic today (which was outrageous this morning), I found myself full of remembering September 11th all those years ago. Like so many other people, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about it (standing in the reception area of the clinic where I worked) and exactly how I felt (terrified, and full of wanting to be with my family immediately).

I felt overwhelmed with sadness and helplessness, the feelings I felt for so long after that terrible day. And then I heard a story on the radio about the effort to make 9/11 a National Day of Service, and I felt hopeful and happy.

I don't know how I hadn't heard about this before, because it's been in the works for a while. The idea is absolutely perfect: let's honor the fallen, and the helpers, by helping others. 

I love it because it takes something so unfathomably sad and turns it around. Instead of just being sad as we think of all those lives so terribly lost, we can do something to make a difference. We take the energy of our anger and turn it into energy for good. 

I also love it because it says: we cannot be defeated. You can crash our planes and knock down our buildings, you can set off bombs at our marathons, but we will not fail or fall. We will rise, Boston Strong, America Strong...and not only will we rise, we will love and give.

That's why this is so wonderful for our children, especially those who were born after 9/11 or who have no memory of it. We can tell them about that day as we clean and paint and serve at food pantries, as we collect clothes or read to the elderly or bring food to a food pantry. 

One day a long time ago, some people did something very horrible, we can say. That's why it's so important that we serve and give. We can't ever let evil win.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About MD Mama

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »

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