This week we observe the 11th anniversary of 9/11/2001. Although the passage of time helps to heal the rawness of the wounds – physical, mental, and emotional – the memories of that day remain as strong as ever. Above all, we remember and honor those whose lives were taken, and we pray that their memories are a blessing and comfort to those who knew them.

Whether meaning can be found in such a tragedy beyond the imperative to cherish those we love is a matter of debate. But two years ago, in an effort to honor those who were killed and injured – and the large and small sacrifices that countless individuals made on behalf of others that day – the president signed into law a bill designating September 11th as “Patriot Day,” a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Today, President Obama issued a proclamation that states, in part:

I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

If you’re looking for service opportunities in your community, the Corporation for National and Community Service has resources about local projects, including a searchable database.

Each of us experienced the tragedy of 9/11 in our own way – and yet it was also the ultimate shared experience. On this anniversary, as we are filled with our own memories, let us also recall the widespread spirit of generosity evident on that day. In the words of the Mourner’s Kaddish, “May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life upon us and upon all Israel.”

Image courtesy of AP/Mary Altaffer