Glenn Winuk | 9/11 | World Trade Center
Jay S. Winuk is president of the public relations firm Winuk Communications, Inc. and the co-founder and executive vice president of the nonprofit MyGoodDeed. This article was adapted for Constitution Daily from one Jay originally wrote for Yahoo News for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on our nation.
Somehow, 10 years have come and gone since my brave younger brother Glenn was murdered by terrorists on September 11, 2001. The shock goes away, I guess, and some of the pain, perhaps, but not so much, really. Especially now, as this historic milestone approaches. How should we pay tribute to those we lost and those who responded?
The White House recently issued guidelines on how to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 with instructions to honor the memory of those who died on American soil through national service and to thank those in the military, law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security for their contributions since.
Active citizenship is indeed the way I have chosen to honor my brother and all those who were lost and those who rose in service in response to the attacks.
Glenn was a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight, at the time located just a block from what we now call Ground Zero. A 20-year volunteer firefighter and EMT in our hometown of Jericho, NY, Glenn sprung into action when the Towers were hit. He helped evacuate his colleagues, and then raced toward the South Tower, running into the towering inferno to save lives.
Glenn was an active citizen – someone who fulfilled both his rights and responsibilities. Glenn did what firefighters do, and what he had done for two decades. Just 40 years old when he died, his partial remains were recovered in March 2002, medic bag by his side. A true American hero had perished, along with a horrifying number of others.
Glenn was a remarkable person, as giving a man as I have ever known. He always went out of his way for people, and not just as an attorney and firefighter. Taking care of others, doing good deeds, just came naturally to him. It gave him great satisfaction. As brothers, we were very close. We attended the same college, shared many of the same friends and spent many happy times together. Losing Glenn, especially in this way, hurts every day.
How best to honor those lost and, for that matter, those who rose in service to get our nation back on its feet in the aftermath of the attacks? What could we do to ensure they would not be forgotten by future generations?
My friend David Paine called me with an idea soon after the carnage. Let’s make 9/11 a national day of service. Let’s turn the tables, and make 9/11 about acts of kindness and charity and volunteerism in tribute to those who were killed. Sounded just right to me, and to each and every 9/11 family member we canvassed about it.
David and I co-founded the nonprofit MyGoodDeed in 2003, encouraging people to visit our web site and register a pledge to honor the victims with acts of kindness toward others, each and every 9/11 anniversary.
Four years have passed since the National Constitution Center and Yahoo News each published versions of this article I penned in solemn recognition of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our nation. In the ensuing years, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance our nonprofit founded continued to grow, and which is now the largest annual day of charitable engagement in the history of the United States.
The significance of 9/11 continues to resonate with people, not just in remembering the brutal attacks, but also as an opportunity to learn from and act upon the lessons of countless individuals, organizations and businesses rising in service after the tragedy. Now, tens of millions of people rally each 9/11 to honor those lost by helping people and communities in need, all over the nation and all over the world. For this I am grateful and proud, knowing that my late brother would be first in line for this kind of tradition and service had he not perished on 9/11.
This year, for the 14th anniversary, we turned the spotlight on the more than 13,000 children born on September 11, 2001, these infants who brought hope into the world as all seemed to be crumbling around us. The Born on 9/11 campaign we developed and launched with help from our friends at the advertising agency Grey New York will continue through the 15th anniversary next year. It serves as a rallying cry to all Americans to participate in this singular observance in ways large and small for those in need.
Tragedy wasn’t the only thing born on 9/11. Hope was born, too. Learn more about these inspiring kids and 9/11 Day by viewing the videos linked below and visiting 911day.org.
Calls to action:
- The Sodina Project shares stories to foster connection and save lives. This grass-roots movement needs your help in connecting with others. Please share the stories and blog posts with your friends and social networks if they have moved you or made you reflective. You will find sharing options at the end of each post.
- Visit MyGoodDeed to learn about the nonprofit and join the 9/11 Good Deed Challenge.
If you have a story to share about the death of a loved one as a result of violence, please submit your story or contact us here .
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