A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9-11 Day of Service (Kids Doing Great Things)

Today was 9-11.

A day of remembrance.

President Obama has asked us to make it a day of service. I think that's the perfect way to remember those who died that day and to honor those who lost their lives trying to rescue the victims. It's the perfect way to show those who were trying to break us that they haven't won.

None of us old enough to remember 9-11 will ever forget that day. It was my daughter's first ever day of preschool. My son's second week of kindergarten. I was afraid to let them leave the house. I watched the second tower go down on live T.V. I cried buckets and hugged my kids and felt like I had lost someone in my family.

For a few short weeks, our country was united. I'll never forget that part either.

Nine years later, sometimes we do forget. Life is busy. It moves forward. So when my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) organized a community service project for today, I admit, I wasn't terribly enthusiastic about it.

For one thing, the project was removing ivy from a community park. Not very glamorous. Not very fun. And having battled English Ivy in my own yard, I knew it was a losing battle. (For those of you not familiar with this plant it will cover EVERYTHING. It spreads, it climbs, and it kills trees. And just when you think you've gotten rid of it...)

When the time came to get out of bed and go to the service project this morning, excuses like coming home late from a high school football game last night and trying to catch up from the first week of school made me almost decide to stay in bed. But I didn't.

(So far this has been all about me and it's not even Monday. But hold on, I'll get to the point.)

When I got to the project site, I saw kids--teenagers down to almost-toddlers--working with their families and friends. They were doing the thankless, itchy, back-breaking job of yanking out ivy. And they were smiling. And they were having fun. And they were working together to do something good for their community.

It was great to see teenagers from rival high schools (who had battled it out on the football field the night before), joking with each other and working side by side. I laughed when my nine-year-old pretended he was a super hero, rescuing the trees from the ivy. I had to smile at a sweet little girl with her arms full of vines stumbling towards an overloaded compost pile.

A simple service. No lives were saved (unless you count trees), no medals were awarded. Nothing but a thanks from the mayor and a less ivy-covered park.

Dirty and tired, the kids who had worked so hard went home to clean up. I bet they didn't give a second thought to what they had done. They were probably thinking about a dance tonight, or homework they needed to finish, or maybe just taking a shower and a nap.

Most of them are too young to even remember 9-11, and pulling weeds probably won't stop terrorists or create world peace.


For three hours this morning, the kids (and adults) were doing something for their community. They set aside their own lives, their busy schedules, and even their rivalries. They met some new people, worked side by side with friends and family, and made a community park a better place. As I watched everybody working together it reminded me of the sense of patriotism and unity that we all felt after 9-11. It was a good feeling.

So maybe I'm making too much of a morning of ivy removal.

Or maybe even little bits of service make the world a better place.


  1. Elizabeth BretschneiderSeptember 13, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    i got assigned to pull Stinky Bob weed. I do not see any documentation of my contribution. I have Stinky Bob growing around my house. I will now make it disapear.