9-11 plans rolled into Participate America

WASHINGTON - In April 2001, when a handful of companies that help citizens communicate with lawmakers began to push for a national week encouraging civic participation, a commemoration of thousands of fallen Americans wasn't what they had in mind.

But those efforts will culminate in just that this coming September 11, the first day of the first annual National Civic Participation Week.

The original plan was to have the Senate pass a resolution declaring the third week of September a time in which Americans should consider ways they can better participate in democracy - a resolution with obvious benefits for companies that put voters in contact with legislators. That bill was introduced in April 2001, but the attacks of September 11 and the subsequent outpouring of volunteerism altered the plan.

The target date was shifted to the week beginning September 11, and instead of it being a week just to participate in democracy, it became a week to remember the victims and honor their memory through volunteering. The sponsors of the event grew in number as well, with advocacy and trade groups lending their names to the effort, known officially as Participate America.

Senate Resolution 141 has now passed unanimously, and National Civic Participation Week will be observed with events throughout the US from September 11 through Septem-ber 17, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

"We hope this week will really become the cornerstone for how we approach the remembrances of 9/11," said Bob Hansan, chairman of the Participate America Foundation.

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