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National 9/11 Flag: A Symbol of Unity and a Call to Service

by Samantha Jo Warfield

Last week, the Corporation for National and Community Service participated in a historic moment when acting CEO, Robert Velasco II joined Members of Congress, service leaders, and 9/11 Day of Service partners on Capitol Hill where the National 9/11 Flag made a stop on its nationwide tour.

According to a tweet by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the flag-stitching ceremony was a part of a national initiative “to make @911Day biggest day of charitable service ever.”

The National 9/11 Flag flew above Ground Zero in the days following the 9/11 attacks, but quickly began to deteriorate amidst all the smoke, debris, and wind and was taken down and stored away.

Seven years later, after a tornado ripped through Greensburg, KS, destroying much of the town, the flag made an appearance. Volunteers from a local Greensburg senior center began to repair the weathered and frayed American symbol with pieces of flags that had survived the tornado.

As the flag makes its way around the country, it has become more than just a symbol for the spirit of unity that erupted that day – it has united survivors from other great tragedies. Survivors of Hurricane Katrina, the Columbine and Fort Hood shootings, and the more recent shooting in Tucson have all contributed stitches.

The flag-stitching event was organized by MyGoodDeed and HandsOn Network, the lead organizers of the nonpartisan, nonprofit 9/11 Day Observance. Joining them to lead the 9/11 Day Observance were the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Business Civic Leadership Center, AARP, and The Mission Continues.

Plans for the 10th Year Anniversary

Organizers expect this year's 9/11 Day Observance to be the single-largest day of good deeds, charitable activity, and service in United States history. Halfway through its 50-state tour, the stop in DC was the perfect opportunity for partners in the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance to unite and announce plans that recognize the 10th anniversary.

For CNCS, this plan included the announcement of the launch of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance 10th Anniversary Challenge – an effort that encourages Americans to come together in the same spirit of compassion, unity, and service they did after the attacks.

“We will never forget that tragic day -- the innocent lives lost, the bravery of those who responded, and the remarkable spirit of unity and compassion that swept the country in the aftermath,” said Velasco. “We are asking Americans to remember the lives of those lost, pay tribute to those who rose in service, and honor those who serve our country today by engaging in service on the 9/11 weekend.”

Service activities should honor those who died and those who have served because of the tragedies of 9/11, and include a time of reflection and remembrance. CNCS will award a total of approximately $500,000 through approximately 10-15 awards ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to organizations that achieve the highest level of volunteer engagement within an established competitive pool.

Projects should be implemented on or near September 11, 2011 and clearly be linked to the observance of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. The submission period is July 14, 2011 to July 29, 2011. For detailed information, eligibility, and information about how to participate, visit Challenge.gov.

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