Selling an Idea for Sept. 11

By John Kelly
Friday, September 9, 2005

S arah Bourke, a George Mason University graduate who now lives in New York City, couldn't believe the TV commercial she saw recently. It had the bright colors and punchy music of a department store white sale ad. A woman's voice said:

"It's our big September 11 sale! Take 30 to 40 percent off every item throughout the store! Plus early birds take an additional 10 percent off! . . . Doors open early and stay open late!"

Said Sarah: "I just walked over to my couch and sat down, mesmerized, shocked and thinking this is so wrong."

Then actor Gary Sinise's voice came on: "Let's create a way to remember September 11 before someone else does."

Said Sarah: "I will give the commercial an A for effort -- it certainly got my attention -- but at the same time I almost couldn't remember the organization, just because I was so shocked at seeing it."

The ad is the creation of One Day's Pay -- http://www.onedayspay.org -- a nonprofit group working to establish Sept. 11 as a national day of volunteering. (The ad isn't being shown in the Washington area. You can see it at http://www.nycremembers.org/news/service.html . Click on "Video Ad 3.")

One Day's Pay's founders include relatives of those killed on 9/11. The group's president, David Paine , said he understands why the issue I discussed in a column a few weeks ago -- how exactly should the anniversary of Sept. 11 be marked? -- can be so heated.

"The truth is that everyone -- including the family members -- understands that the country needs to move on beyond the tragedy of that day," said David. "At the same time, we need to find a way to never forget 9/11."

One Day's Pay's simple idea: Help others, whether by giving blood, volunteering at a soup kitchen, making a cash donation or any other charitable effort.

"There were two things that will forever linger in our minds and hearts" about Sept. 11, David said. "The first is the horror of it and the second is the remarkable spirit of unity and compassion."

One Day's Pay wants Americans to remember the unity and compassion, not, said David, "the memories the terrorists created."

Rebecca Fitzgerald of Sterling said she has a special way of marking the Sept. 11 anniversary: "It is through honoring a fantastic lady, friend and colleague of mine who not only survived the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center but also the 2001 tragedy with a particularly harrowing story."


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