Let me introduce you to a fence. Yes, fences are normally dull things, designed to keep dogs in backyards or to keep burglars out or to keep those damn kids off your lawn. But this fence is special to me, partly because of where this fence is, and partly because of when I helped paint it.
This fence is at American Legion Post 99, in Campbell, CA.
I helped paint it on September 11th, 2011.
Since 2009, the 9/11 anniversary is by law a National Day of Service and Remembrance- not simply a day to mourn those who have perished in the tragedy, but to help one another and rebuild our communities.
Through serve.gov I was able to find many local organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area offering volunteer opportunities around and on the 11th, and eventually decided to help spruce up the veteran's center in Campbell, through Hands On Bay Area.
The volunteer leader talked about how this anniversary held great sorrow for our nation, but that it could also hold other emotions for us, and that is why organizations like his own were mobilizing thousands of volunteers across the country to pitch in and help where help is needed, to evolve the purpose and meaning of the day beyond what it once was, and to create a message that America can, and will, rebuild again.
Three hours later, and many brushstrokes later, the half dozen of us had completed our task. From myself at 21 to a gentleman named David who was my grandfather's age, we gathered together and painted a fence.
Yes, just a fence. I know it's not exciting.
But to me- it means a lot more.