She was just a girl when she heard it on TV — the notion of “people getting together” to do something relevant and helpful after the traumatic events of Sept. 11, 2001. And Alee Pagnotti listened. Now, 10 years later, the law student is still living that notion — and trying to recapture the feeling of giving that followed those dark days.
At dawn Sunday, she joined hundreds in a northern Nashville neighborhood to build seven new homes for families — a dividend in brick and mortar of the towers that fell hundreds of miles away and a decade in the past.
“This is a good reminder to keep that spirit alive,” Pagnotti said.
Across the nation, Americans built homes, shined firetrucks, cleaned parks and, again, gave blood on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, trying to recapture the good-will, can-do spirit that people say they lost in the decade since the attacks.
The National Day of Service and Remembrance was launched in 2002 by family members of Sept. 11 victims. With projects in all 50 states, the goal was to honor the victims and turn the tragic anniversary into something positive. President Barack Obama spent time with his family working at a soup kitchen in Washington on Saturday, encouraging Americans to find ways to serve.
Americans renovated community centers, cleaned public parks and gave blood. In Richmond, Va., folks shined firetrucks. Hundreds of pints of blood were donated in Brooklyn, Mich. In New York City, volunteers gave kids school supplies and free haircuts. Volunteers in Raleigh, N.C., painted city playhouses.
More than 800 volunteers lined up in Boston to put together care packages for U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world, filling cardboard boxes with socks, hand sanitizer, chewing gum and personal messages.