The story behind the 9/11 National Day of Service

Sep 8, 2023, 9:30 PM | Updated: Sep 15, 2023, 12:51 pm

american flag on pentagon building...

An American flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at sunrise on the morning of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The American flag is draped over the site of impact at the Pentagon. In the foreground, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, opened in 2008 adjacent to the site, commemorates the lives lost at the Pentagon and onboard American Airlines Flight 77. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

SALT LAKE CITY — Monday will mark the 22nd anniversary of the horrific events of 9/11.

But the legacy of that day is more than just the terror itself, it’s about how Americans picked each other up, supported each other and came together. 

David Paine, CEO and co-founder of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, shares with KSL NewsRadio about how this day started and what is going on both in Utah and nationally.


Along with his friend Jay Winuk, Paine started the remembrance in 2002, a few months after the tragic events. He says Jay’s brother Glenn, died in the collapse of the World Trade Center South Tower. However, it wasn’t formally designated by Congress until 2009. 

“I’d been born and raised a New Yorker,” Paine said. “And nothing hit me harder than 9/11. And I just sat down with Jay and together we said, ‘how do we take this day back?'”

Paine says they were motivated by the way the country responded to the attacks.

“I think we were inspired by the way the nation,” he said. “We weren’t just red states or blue states. We were just human beings helping one another. And I think it awakened me to the realization that while we may not agree on a lot of things, we are all fundamentally kind, decent, compassionate people that care about one another. Maybe that ought to be the legacy that we pass on for generations to come.”

In the last decade or so, Paine says the 9/11 National Day of Service has grown to become the largest day of service in the country. He says on that day, more than 33 million Americans have spent time performing acts of service and helping those in need.

National Day of Service expected to be bigger in 2023

And he is expecting this year’s event to be the biggest one yet.

“I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve all been coming out of the pandemic or what,” he said. “But people seem to have a real longing to get back together with one another to help each other.”

He says his organization will be holding 18 large service projects around the country. Among the projects, according to Paine, will be packing means for those at risk for hunger. He says roughly 6.5 millions meals will be packed. 

Through the organization Just Serve, Paine says Utah has played an active role in the 9/11 National Day of Service. 

“I will say that in Utah,” he said. “No state has embraced 9/11 more than state of Utah and Just Serve.”

Paine says interest in the organization continues to grow.

“And I think it’s because we’re fundamentally about trying to make the world a better place,” he said. “One good deed at a time, and there is no expiration date on kindness.”

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

Read more: Biden honors 9/11 victims at Pentagon ceremony: ‘This is a day not only to remember, but a day of renewal and resolve’

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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The story behind the 9/11 National Day of Service