20th Anniversary of 9/11: National Day of Service

with Jay Winuk and David Paine of 9/11 Day

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Jay Winuk and David Paine, Co-founders of 9/11 Day, join host Tetiana Anderson to share how they are turning 9/11 into a day of unity and service.

Posted on:

Aug 30, 2021

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, a day that forever changed our lives. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. To pay tribute to those killed and injured in the 9/11 attacks and to honor the many brave individuals who have risen in service in response to those tragedies, toward individuals are turning 9/11 into a day of unity and doing good, and they're here with me today. David Paine is President and Cofounder of 9/11 Day, and he's here with Jay Winuk, Cofounder and Executive Vice President. Gentlemen, thank you for being here.

Paine: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure. Winuk: Nice to see you.

Anderson: So this organization is meant to bring people together in the name of service and in the name of giving back, but what's the thread that brought the two of you together to even start 9/11 Day? And, Jay, I'm going to throw that at you.

Winuk: Well, David and I had known each other for some years before the attacks of 9/11, and when the attacks happened, he attacked me from California... I'm in New York... and asked me what he thought of an idea that he had to try to turn the anniversary of 9/11 into a day of doing good deeds. David knew that I had lost my brother, Glenn, who was a partner in a law firm whose offices were located very close to the World Trade Center. He worked at Holland & Knight. For 20 years, Glenn was a volunteer firefighter and an EMT, so he did what firefighters do. He raised into the South Tower to save lives, people he did not know, and perished when the South Tower collapsed.

Anderson: And we know, of course, that 9/11 is one of those things that unified the country in a way that we really haven't seen since that period, and the goal of 9/11 Day is to continue that sentiment. David, can you explain the philosophy behind that?

Paine: Yeah, I think, besides the absolute horror and magnitude of the tragedy, one of the things that I think I and so many people remember the most was how 9/11 did bring people together, and I think it demonstrated that, you know, that when things really matter in life, our differences don't, and we sort of say within the 9/11 community that the attacks sort of put all of us in a state of unitedness where it connected each and every one of us based on what we fundamentally are and who we are as human beings, that sort of that natural compassion and concern for one another, and that became the inspiration for me and Jay to kind of try to transfer 9/11 into a day of doing good and unity because we ultimately just wanted something good to come from the loss of so many people in such a terrible way.

Anderson: And what kinds of acts of service are we talking about? What are some of the things that people do to honor this day?

Paine: Yeah, for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we're hoping that we can actually get... inspire Americans and others all around the world to perform up to 20 million good deeds that would help people in need, and this would, you know, could be almost anything. As we define a good deed, it's simply an act of kindness or charity or concern for the well-being of others, and so this could involve, you know, children who could with their parents go through some of the clothes that they've outgrown and donate them, or it could be as simple as holding a door open for someone or buying a cup of coffee for a person who might be in line behind you, but it could also be things like volunteering, making donations to charities. It's really all about as we're sort of referring to this as taking a moment, taking a moment to think about what's most important in life, you know, our family, our friends, our community, and then doing some sort of act or action that helps in some positive way, however big or small that might be.

Anderson: And we, of course, know that this effort isn't new. You have been working on 9/11 Day for some time, but for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, you're adding another element to this, and it involves the coronavirus pandemic. So how did you two really decide that these two things, 9/11 and coronavirus, should go hand in hand when it comes to service?

Winuk: Well, you're right in that it's not a new thing. We have with the help of so many others, organizations, individuals, others, grown the 9/11 Day observance into the nation's largest annual day of charitable engagement, millions of people each 9/11 engaging in good deeds. This year though, we are really working hard to direct a lot of our programming, a lot of our activities towards pandemic relief, whether it is to support those who are at risk of hunger because of the pandemic, those who are facing financial challenges and any number of other challenges. We really think that together on 9/11 for the 9/11 day of service, this nation can really, really make an impact in terms of pandemic relief.

Anderson: And, David, I want to give you an opportunity to jump in on that because I know that you had something valuable to say there.

Paine: Yeah, for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we want to find a way to say thank you to today's frontline workers who have been helping our country overcome this very significant tragedy that we're facing right now, and so in partnership with World Central Kitchen, our intention is to deliver tens of thousands of freshly prepared meals purchased from local restaurants that are struggling and to provide those meals on September 11th to firefighters, other first responders and health care workers as sort of a way of saying thanks to them and acknowledging the important role that they play in keeping the rest of us safe every day.

Anderson: And, David, if people want to find out more about 9/11 Day, how it works, what's the website?

Paine: Yeah, we encourage people to go to our website, 911day.org, where you can find a wealth of things to do. We have some tool kits and resources for parents and teachers. We have opportunities for people to explore good deeds and share them through their social media channels. There's a lot of great things that people can do at 911day.org that are completely free and a way for them to participate in this important observance this year.

Anderson: David Paine and Jay Winuk of 9/11 Day, thank you so much to both of you for joining us.

Paine: Thank you.

Winuk: Thank you.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the country, log on to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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