Yesterday, I was proud to join with volunteers from DOT and hundreds of remarkable students from The George Washington University to honor those we lost on September 11th by serving communities in Washington, DC.
On a day when our nation recalled the terrible tragedy of September 11, 2001, more than a million Americans across the country came together to pay tribute to those who perished that day, including the first responders who sacrificed their lives in service of their fellow Americans. And the community spirit I saw from these volunteers--and from volunteers across the country who chose to make 9-11 a National Day of Service--was an inspiration.
At Ketcham Elementary School in Washington, DC, more than 250 members of GW's freshman class joined a team of DOT volunteers to paint murals and perform clean-up work. And at nearby Fort Dupont Park, more than 400 GW freshmen joined another DOT team at nine different sites in the park to help remove invasive species, clear clogged drainage culverts, and clean up trash and debris.
The groups from DOT responded to President Obama's call to service, and the need to volunteer, by giving back to our communities. By lending a hand and working together, the volunteers from GW University and DOT made a big difference for everyone who enjoys our public spaces and for the faculty, families, and students of Ketcham Elementary.
And when parkgoers visit Fort Dupont, they will be greeted with clean trails and picnic areas. Residents along the Anacostia River will enjoy a watershed that is just a little less choked with runoff and litter.
I was happy to hear GW University President Steven Knapp explain that the university wanted its students to "begin their academic careers by experiencing the important connection between their formal education and being a good citizen."
Over the weekend, I heard many voices looking back on how our nation came together like never before in response to the attacks of 9-11. I saw yesterday that we can still come together to take care of each other and to do something for each other.
I hope we can all carry that lesson with us, and remember to serve our nation and each other a little more often.