Why We Observe Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance
written by: Colin Hicks
• edited by: Ronda Bowen
• updated: 2/27/2014
On September 11, 2001, there were 2,977 people killed in terrorist attacks. Every year, Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance--the full name of this observance--is celebrated to honor and remember the people who were lost that day. Here are some more facts to know.
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As time goes on, memories fade. In the case of the tragedy that was the September 11th, Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance serves as both a celebratory holiday and a day of remembrance to ensure that the memory of the individuals who lost their lives will never be forgotten. To better understand how to celebrate, let us take a look at the history, purpose, and meaning of the day.
On September 11, 2001, two civilian aircraft hijacked by terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. A third hijacked airplane later crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth hijacked aircraft was found crashed into a southwestern Pennsylvania field after passengers attempted to take back control of the aircraft. During this international tragedy, many innocent people lost their lives, and America as a nation was stunned.
Patriot Day was created as a response to these terrorists attacks on the United States of America. The president at the time, George W. Bush, signed Patriot Day into law as a celebratory mourning holiday on December 18, 2001. Patriot Day is not a federal holiday, and schools and businesses normally stay open during this day.
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The Yearly Proclamations
Each year the President issues a proclamation calling upon:
All state and local governments and citizens of the United States of American to observe Patriot Day with programs and activities appropriate to the holiday and atmosphere of remembrance.
All departments, agencies and organizations of the United States are to lower to half-staff the flag of the United States of America. This is to honor the individuals who lost their lives to terrorism on September 11.
The people of the United States of America to observe a moment of silence in order to honor the individuals who lost their lives on September 11 following the terrorist attacks. For many this period of silence is observed at 8:46 AM EST, the time the first plane flew into the World Trade Center.
These proclamations are given each year and followed by many citizens of the United States. Often parties and celebrations are held on the day, recognizing the importance of the men and women in the armed forces who protect the nation from similar attacks from happening again.
In 2012, the name was changed to Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.
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The purpose of the day is to act as a release for Americans, in which citizens can express grief at the loss of thousands of innocents at the hands of a few extremists. Many communities, for example, hold church services in memory of those who lost their lives, while some citizens may visit memorials for those who have passed.
The citizens who have been directly affected as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11 may visit grave sites or attend memorials as well. In addition, many celebrations during Patriot Day involve thanking the enlisted military, as those attending celebrations express their thanks for the men and women striving to protect their country from similar attacks in the future. People also pay homage to the police and fire departments across the nation, because of the many police officers and firemen who responded to the scene of the tragedy on September 11.
This day should be thought of as an opportunity for Americans to grieve for those lost, remember and honor their lives. Some may choose to enjoy a family meal and celebrate life with their loved ones; others attend a quiet memorial service. Whatever the case may be, Americans can normally take comfort in family and friends as they remember the horror of that long-ago day.
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Patriot Day is not only a day created for those who lost their lives to the terrorist attacks of September 11, but it is also a day for those who were left behind in the wake of those attacks. Whether they are children who lost parents, spouses who lost a wife or husband, parents who lost a child, or an American who watched as planes crashed into symbols of freedom and democracy the world over, Patriot Day serves as a day to express the pride that Americans feel.
Patriot Day is not only a remembrance, then, but also a celebration of life, as those who have come to terms with the loss of loved ones, or are still coming to terms with the loss, celebrate the fact that they, and the United States, still live on.