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Sept. 11: A day of remembrance, reflection and action

Today is one of those days where you remember where you were when you heard about or saw it.

"It" actually is "them," four separate terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. on America on Sept. 11, 2001.

The aftermath of each of these events was felt well beyond the borders of the actual plane crashes. The consequences continue to affect us a dozen years later.

I hadn't planned to post anything 9/11 specific today. But then I turned on my television this morning just in time to see the President and First Lady, the Vice President and his wife and their staff members standing on the White House South Lawn for a moment of silence and reflection.

A terrible day's timeline: It was 7:46 a.m. here, 8:46 a.m. Eastern Time, the exact moment 12 years ago that first highjacked jetliner hit the World Trade Center tower in New York.

The second plane struck the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. ET.

A third commandeered plane crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. ET.

The final highjacked flight nosedived into the Pennsylvania countryside 10:03 a.m. ET.

The 9/11 Memorial notes that the hijackers of the fourth plane deliberately crashed it into the field to prevent passengers from retaking the aircraft. Many other instances of heroism and sacrifice are preserved at the interactive website, as well as at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. 

United We ServeRemember and serve: Sept. 11 is now more than a terrible and tragic day in U.S. history. It's now an official national day of service and remembrance.

President Obama plans to mark today's 12th anniversary by participating in a volunteer project.

If you are interested in actively observing 9/11, check the National Corporation for Community Service, which grew out of the many memorializations of the victims of the attacks.

Commemorations and remembrance activities are expected in all 50 states. Among the volunteer projects are painting and refurbishing homes, running food drives, sprucing up schools, reclaiming neighborhoods and myriad ways of supporting and honoring veterans, soldiers, military families and first responders.

Your local newspaper and television stations should have information for your area. Or you can find opportunities to serve by using All For Good's online search tool.

Beyond 9/11: You'll notice that the nonprofit offers ways to help beyond today's 9/11 events.

If you can't give your time today, perhaps you can later. You also can help many other worthwhile service projects by making a donation to those groups and causes.

I'm not here to preach. And I have no grand insight to share on the anniversary of this terrible tragedy.

But this year, Sept. 11 seems to weigh on me a bit more.

Maybe it's because I have some dear friends who have recently suffered losses. Maybe it's because the hubby, my usual rock and sounding board to help me though everything, is traveling.

Whatever the reason, the losses of this day 12 years ago will be on my mind.

But I'll also be thinking about the efforts of strangers reaching out to strangers to provide desperately needed assistance and comfort.

That there were people then, both in professional capacities and simply as compassionate fellow humans sharing a brief time and space together, makes the memory of Sept. 11, 2001, a tiny bit more bearable.

I am thankful today and each coming day that there are still so many good people among us to help us all move forward in peace and understanding.

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