Page 2 of 3   <       >

Turning Sept. 11 Into a Day of Service and Remembrance

When the planes crashed into the towers, he helped evacuate his building, then grabbed a medical kit and ran into the towers.

He was 40 years old, had no wife or children. He had lived for moments like this.

"As a child, I can remember my uncle, also a firefighter, holding Glenn or myself and sliding down the fire pole in the station where he worked," Winuk says. "We asked my dad to put a pole from our bedroom down to the garage."

Then the towers came down.

For weeks, Winuk and his parents harbored hope. "Air pockets in the rubble, maybe he hit his head and was in a hospital somewhere." When Mayor Rudolph Giuliani finally announced that rescue effort had turned into a recovery operation, the family planned a funeral.

The Winuks, who are Jewish, took a cue from survivors of the Holocaust, who, when they had no body to bury, had put favored belongings of their dead in an otherwise empty coffin. In went Glenn's law books, a Jewish prayer book, a toy firetruck he'd had as a child.

Then, the following March, Glenn's partial remains, along with those of several other firefighters, were discovered in what had been the lobby of the South Tower. Glenn's medical kit was at his side. The casket was dug up and his remains added.

"It was a very hard [funeral] service," Winuk remembers.

* * *

That same spring, Paine, a native New Yorker who had moved to California, was still feeling haunted by the attacks, though he had lost no family members. Looking for a way to help, he learned that the New York Mets were each giving a day's pay to help 9/11 victims and their families.

"That's it!" he remembers thinking.

He rushed to buy domain names on the Internet:, .net, .org and so on. He thought the idea was catchy -- Americans donating salary or one day's effort to some sort of volunteer effort, in honor of Sept. 11 victims. On his Web sites, he invited people to "do a good deed" and post it on the site as a means of inspiring others to do the same.

<       2        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company