Togetherness in the Wake of Tragedy

A personal story on the lasting impacts of 9/11

Togetherness in the Wake of Tragedy

NC State University student and Activate Good intern, Shawn Fredericks, recalls the events of September 11 and reflects on the power of coming together to serve years later.

During the tragic event that was 9/11, I was six years old living with my parents in Brooklyn, New York. I remember that day like it was yesterday, sitting on my mom’s couch in the living room while breaking news was bursting onto my mom’s television.

I can still remember seeing the burning buildings, the balls of fire engulfing the towers, the terror in my dad’s voice as he cursed at the television shocked and in disbelief at the fact that New York City, but more so America, his home, had been attacked. My Mom was shaken, not knowing what to say. Here she was, an immigrant who came to America as a child. It was all she knew, and now she sees it burning before her eyes.

As a kid, I was in tears. I may not have known about the greater societal and political consequences of a terrorist attack, but I knew fear and I felt it looking at those images and looking in my parent’s eyes.

I remember back then, I used to watch wrestling, specifically WWE Smackdown. Their tribute show changed how I remember and feel about 9/11. During the show, the wrestlers put aside their outlandish personalities and used wrestling to inspire hope and bring people together. This taught me that it’s possible for all kinds of people to come together.

Volunteers from multiple companies and groups beautified the campus of West Millbrook Middle School in Raleigh during the 9/11 Day of Service. The project was one of over 100 taking place during the day.

9/11 for me is about building, and rebuilding community. It’s about taking time on 9/11 and every other day to come together. Volunteering, doing something in earnest service for each other, is how everyday people can come together to build community. The 9/11 Day of Service was vital, because it not only brings people together, it also builds a sense of community. During times like 9/11, community is what people need, the real lesson that 9/11 taught me and the country as a whole, is that we are the American people, and we have to act as a community and take care of each other.

Service is the number one way to build an earnest connection between people to foster a communal environment. Through service projects people can lean on each other to accomplish things one person could not accomplish on their own. From transforming a local school to cleaning up the streets,  there are endless impacts that can be accomplished, when a community comes together to benefit the greater good.


The 9/11 Day of Service on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 brought together an estimated 2,000+ volunteers to serve at over 100 projects benefiting more than 40 causes around the Triangle. View photos from the Day of Service on our Facebook page, here and here. Learn more about volunteer needs in the community year-round and sign up to help here.

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