6 Ways to Practice Good Citizenship
by Lindsey Turnbull
September 11, 2001, tragedy struck America. Every year, Americans take a moment to reflect on the magnitude of this disaster. Yes, September 11th is a sad day, but you can honor the memories of the men and women who died that day by practicing good citizenship. According the 911day.org, we can keep the spirit of unity and compassion found after the attacks alive by performing good deeds. By doing something special today, you’re not only remembering the tragedy, but making the country a little bit better by doing something positive in honor of those who passed.
1. Plant a tree.
Trees are awesome- they create oxygen, clean the airs, protect against climate change, make shade, and provide homes for animals. Planting a tree is something that only takes a few hours, but if cared for, can last well beyond our lifetime. What better way to honor someone’s memory than by planting something that will make the world more beautiful and healthy for generations?
2. Get political.
You may already be annoyed by the constant barrage of politics on TV in preparation for the 2020 elections. That’s ok. We don’t mean you should plunk down and watch the news for a day (unless that’s what you love)! Find an issue you’re passionate about (college costs, immigration, student loans, police brutality, education, women’s rights, voting rights, just to name a few) and write a letter, call, or use ResistBot to send a message to your local, state, or federal government officials.
- Find your national and state legislatures (it’s really easy)!
Check to see if you’re eligible to pre-register to vote. Some states, like Hawaii, Maryland and Louisiana allow teens as young as 16 to pre-register! If you’re 17 or 18, you can likely register to vote in the election (EXCITTTTING). Sign up now! It doesn’t cost anything, it won’t take long, and you’ll be doing your civic duty.
3. Thank someone for what they do.
Think of all the people in your life who serve others- teachers, firefighters, doctors, preachers, librarians, etc. Think of the people in your life who help you- tutors, parents, neighbors, coaches, members of your church, etc. Take a moment out of your day to thank them for what they do for the community and for you. Write a letter, send an email, or just walk up and say “thanks.”
Volunteering is a great way to honor someone’s memory. Find an organization near you and donate a few hours of your time. You’ll be making the world a better place and helping an organization that deserves it. VolunTeen Nation is a great resource. You can look on DoSomething for ideas for longer running projects also. Check your local homeless and women’s shelters, Pre-Ks, elementary schools, animal shelters, Girl Scout troops, Boys & Girls Clubs, etc. and see if you can find somewhere to spend a few hours.
5. Write a letter to a friend to tell them how awesome they are.
It’s nice to be nice! And who doesn’t love getting mail? Life is short and life is precious- there’s never a bad time to reach out to someone you care about. Pick out some cool stationary (or make your own with stamps) and get writing and doodling. Think of how touched the recipient will feel!
6. Brush up on some awesome historical figures.
American history is full of people who defied social conventions, pushed boundaries, and innovated to make the country a better place. Learning about history makes people more empathetic, more understanding and even better critical thinkers. (It can also make you a whiz at trivia.) It’s pretty simple at its core- we don’t know where we’re going until we see where we’ve been. We can learn a lot from the past. This list of 100 Great American Women is a great place to start.
Understanding the past will help clarify how tragedies (and triumphs) fit into and shape the nation. It’s pretty amazing, really.
Bonus: Commit to long-term change.
You could also read one of these amazing books by young activists and learn more about taking up space, starting an activism project, ending racism, and more. And put your plans into action.
September 11th is a day for remembrance, but remembrance doesn’t always have to be solemn or lonely. We can remember events and people by doing nice things for others in someone’s honor. This way we’re acknowledging a loss and doing something positive and proactive.
Share your good deed with the world with 911day.org. You can share your good deed and even dedicate it to someone.