DEAR ABBY: How can people observe the first anniversary of Sept. 11 in a personal way with family and friends?
This question has been posed to the White House Commission on Remembrance by teenagers and seniors alike. In response, we have developed a special remembrance, centered on the theme "Stand With Courage."
Real courage is born of necessity in a crisis, exemplified by the actions displayed by the passengers on the fateful United Airlines Flight 93, or the men and women who ran up the stairs of the collapsing buildings in the call of duty. It is reflected in the bravery of the wives, husbands and children who have continued with their lives after the devastating loss of their loved ones.
Every one of us can observe the anniversary of the attacks by pausing for a personal moment of remembrance, which includes the symbolic ringing of a bell three times (once for each site) and an informal candlelight vigil. Suggestions for such a remembrance are available on the commission's Web site at www.remember.gov. These ideas include gathering with loved ones for dinner, saying a prayer for the families of those who died, driving with headlights illuminated or displaying the American flag.
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face," Eleanor Roosevelt once said. "You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'"
We can continue to affirm our strength as a nation by renewing our faith and courage on this first anniversary of the attacks. -- CARMELLA LA SPADA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE COMMISSION ON REMEMBRANCE
DEAR CARMELLA: I would like to join you in extending my deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the people who perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania; also those brave souls who sacrificed their lives trying to rescue others on that horrific day.
As much as we might wish otherwise, we must be prepared for "the next thing that comes along." To me, that means also supporting those young men and women who have put their personal lives aside and have assumed roles in our military to protect us all from terrorism.
Often this has been done at great expense to themselves, as they put family lives and careers on hold in order to do it.
I have been told repeatedly that the greatest morale booster for our service members stationed far from home is mail call.
A simple and easy way to express our gratitude to these brave and idealistic men and women is to e-mail them a personal message of support via www.OperationDearAbby.net. This Web site is an official program of the Department of Defense, and is noncommercial.
People who don't know how to operate a computer can ask a friend who has one to help them do it, or they can go to a public library or computer store and ask for assistance.
Simply type in: www.OperationDearAbby.net, select "send a message," and start writing.
I'm reminded of a quote from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Today I would like to paraphrase it: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask instead what you can do for those courageous individuals who so selflessly and bravely serve our country.