9/11 Volunteers On Day Of Service
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
This morning, there were memorials for the victims of 9/11 in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. At the Pentagon, President Obama paid tribute to those who died and also to those who've chosen to serve the country since 9/11. And he called on others to do the same.
President BARACK OBAMA: Let us renew our common purpose. Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans, united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another, to stand up for the country we all love.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
For the first time today, September 11th is being observed as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. In New York, family members of people killed in the World Trade Center were joined by volunteers from hospitals, soup kitchens and other groups to read the names of the dead.
Unidentified Woman #1: John P. Williamson.
Unidentified Man #1: Donna Ann Wilson.
Unidentified Woman #2: William Wilson.
Unidentified Man #2: David Herald Winton.
Unidentified Woman #3: Glenn J. Winuk.
BLOCK: Glenn J. Winuk was 40 years old when he died in the Trade Center's collapse. He was a lawyer who worked near the Twin Towers. He was also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician. So he rushed into the Trade Center to try to help.
Glenn Winuk's brother Jay has been working for years to have today become a National Day of Service. Jay Winuk joins us now from New York and thank you very much for being with us today.
Mr. JAY WINUK (Co-Founder, My Good Deed): Thank you for having me.
BLOCK: Mr. Winuk, you have been the driving force behind turning today into a National Day of Service with your group, My Good Deed. What's the idea been behind this move?
Mr. WINUK: Well, we'd like people to visit our Web site which is 911DayOfService.org to find out about service opportunities that are happening in their community or anywhere around the country and pledge this day in service to do any kind of simple good deed or charitable activity that helps the community or person in need.
And the reason that we did this was because of the inspirational phenomenon of people spontaneously engaging in service to help rebuild New York City and this nation in the months after 9/11. It was really an extraordinary demonstration of the human spirit and we think that's too valuable to waste.
BLOCK: And you've been very clear that you do not want this to be a federal holiday.
Mr. WINUK: No. It shouldn't be a federal holiday. This isn't a day for barbecues and sails and visits to the beach. This is a day for action. This is a day for people to reflect on the events that happened and to find ways in whatever way they're comfortable doing to, to give back to people in need and communities in need.
BLOCK: How are you finding time today? I know, you've been busy with interviews like this one. How are you finding time to pull yourself away a bit and to think about your brother and what his life stood for?
Mr. WINUK: Well, I think about him all the time, of course, but on a day like today, especially so. And in everything I'm doing today, I'm carrying my brother's spirit with me. I feel like all the work that so many of us have put in is a great tribute to him and all those who perished and who rose in service. So thinking about him actually keeps me going and doing all of this. It's therapeutic for me, really.
BLOCK: Well, Jay Winuk, thank you very much for talking with us.
Mr. WINUK: It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
BLOCK: That's Jay Winuk, co-founder of the group, My Good Deed. Across the country, other 9/11 family members and volunteers in general are taking part in the National Day of Service. They are serving meals, fixing schools, cleaning up beaches, reading to children.
Teresa Mathai's husband Joseph died in the Twin Towers. Today, she has been installing drywall in a low income home in Boston for the group Habitat for Humanity.
Ms. TERESA MATHAI (Member, Habitat for Humanity): We'll be using drills and putting nails and cutting up the huge rocks and measuring it and putting up the walls…
BLOCK: Must be…
Ms. MATHAI: We're enjoying ourselves. We like to see at the end of the day when we can actually measure what we've done.
BLOCK: Yeah, must be satisfying at the end of the day there to see that wall going up.
Ms. MATHAI: Yeah.
BLOCK: What does it mean to you that this is now a federally-recognized National Day of Service?
Ms. MATHAI: I think it's an honor for us because our loved ones would have been so happy that something so good could come out of something so tragic. And to me, 9/11 not only means all those vivid pictures, the tragedy, the horror. A lot of that kept going on and we revisit it every year, but this does - there's a new sense of new beginnings, of getting together, community spirit, of helping other peoples and all that is also what was meaningful about 9/11 to us. It's a very special day. I think our loved ones would be (unintelligible). This is a very meaningful way to remember them.
BLOCK: That's Teresa Mathai, whose husband Joseph died in the World Trade Center eight years ago today. She is among those taking part in the first National Day of Service and Remembrance.
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