A Day of Caring and Remembrance

One of the largest local gatherings to commemorate the events of last Sept. 11 will undoubtedly be the “Spirit of America Day of Caring and Remembrance.”

United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County (in partnership with the city of Asheville and Buncombe County) is coordinating activities aimed at paying tribute to the victims and rescuers of last year’s terrorist attacks — both through an official ceremony and through volunteer efforts around the county. The Sept. 11 event is also meant to serve as a call to action for people to get involved in helping others.

“It’s a day for all of us to remember what we’re calling the fallen heroes of Sept. 11, 2001,” says A-B Tech President K. Ray Bailey, the chairman of United Way’s fall fund-raising campaign. “It helps us as Americans stop and reflect where we were a year ago and the impact that it had on our lives.”

The day is also intended to underscore President George W. Bush’s call for volunteers to pitch in on projects across the country, notes Bailey. About 1,400 volunteers will fan out countywide to offer their services at 140 different sites, including schools and nonprofit organizations, he reports. And though the memory of last fall’s tragedy colors this year’s event, it’s actually the 11th year for Day of Caring volunteer projects.

Many of those volunteers will participate in The Day of Remembrance program, starting at 12:30 p.m. at City/County Plaza. The program — which is open to the public — will include a procession of law-enforcement and rescue personnel, statements from volunteers who worked at Ground Zero, and music provided by students from Asheville and Reynolds high schools.

The event will also serve to launch United Way’s fall fund-raising campaign, which seeks to raise about $5.4 million for health-and-human-service needs in Buncombe County, a goal made more challenging by the current downturn in the economy.

In the end, Bailey hopes those attending the event come away with a desire to help others.

“I would hope that, as we did last year, we would have that strong feeling of unity in our community and in our nation, and that we’d also have a sense of needing to volunteer — to help people not as fortunate as some of us are, and that people would want to participate in our United Way campaign, because it’s the right thing to do,” he concludes.

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