09/09/2014 12:04 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

Transforming the Meaning of 9/11

9/11 has scarred all of us forever. The question is: how do we make sense of what happened, and how can we move forward?

Each year, as September 11th approaches, the nation relives the unspeakable events and tragic loss of that day. But because of the organizers of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, September 11th is no longer just about mourning, but about community, giving back, and hope.

To keep alive the spirit of compassion and service that united Americans in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, September 11th is now federally recognized as a National Day of Service and Remembrance, establishing a tradition of national engagement in charitable acts as a tribute to the victims, survivors and first responders of 9/11.

The observance of this day is led by MyGoodDeed, a nonprofit dedicated to using the power of service to overcome the tragedy of September 11th. It's an organization borne out of a very personal connection to the 9/11 tragedy, as co-founder Jay Winuk's brother, Glenn, was killed in the line of duty as a volunteer firefighter that day, after helping to evacuate the Twin Towers-based law office where he worked as a partner. Inspired by his brother's heroism and dedication to community service, Jay and his friend, David Paine, launched the 9/11 Day Observance initiative.

More than a day of volunteering, the National Day of Service and Remembrance is filled with commemorative events, charitable acts and community outreach. The collective community service is led throughout the country by nonprofits, service organizations and corporate philanthropy programs as a living memorial to the victims and heroes of 9/11, and as a reminder of the importance of working more closely together in peace to improve our world.

Congress charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with helping to support this effort across the country, in the hopes that citizens from every state will join in to create a popular day of volunteerism. As a result, the National Day of Service has grown to become the country's largest annual day of charitable service. In 2013, more than 47 million people from throughout the U.S. and in 150 countries observed September 11 by performing good deeds that help others.

"The terrorists hoped that 9/11 would forever be a day defined by their evil actions," said Paine, co-founder and president of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. "Instead, thanks to the participation of millions of people, 9/11 has become a day defined by the goodness people showed in response to the attacks, and the goodness they continue to show. September 11 has turned into an extraordinary day of human kindness and compassion."

The objective of the National Day of Service isn't about engaging in any particular cause. Rather, the day is meant to give back to communities in ways that best suit the interests of volunteers. Because this observance is directed at every citizen, it serves as an entry point to volunteerism and service for thousands of Americans who would otherwise be sitting on the sidelines.

Driving this spirit of giving back are pledges of good deeds of any kind, much like the feelings that moved Americans to action in the immediate aftermath of those dark hours. Everyone, either as an individual or as part of a corporate employee volunteer program, is encouraged to prepare for the 2014 anniversary by going to MyGoodDeed's website to pledge their participation in this nationwide movement.

And for companies that wish to engage employees around this event, Causecast has partnered with 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance to make it easy for employees to get involved. Every company that is a part of Causecast's complete corporate philanthropy and volunteering platform will be able to instantly launch a 9-11 giving campaign to its entire employee-base, with all of the usual automated reporting, tracking and social interactivity that accompanies every Causecast campaign.

Constructing meaning from tragedy is always a painful task. But as a dedicated, ongoing project with the participation of the world, it's possible to build hope out of heartbreak.

Join us.