“Never forget!” has become the mantra of those who urge us to remember, and to learn, from the tragedy that was 9/11. Adults remember the day that our world changed forever, and still mourn the loss of innocent lives. We have heard the stories of bravery and heroism that surrounded the events, and the aftermath, of that day. But not everyone has heard the tales of ordinary people everywhere, who responded with extraordinary kindness to those who were caught up in those tragic events. It seems that when things are at their worst, people are at their best! Those are the stories we hope to share on Sunday, October 6. 

Why is it important to hear – and remember – these stories? Because it reminds us that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. Our actions matter. Each of us can make a difference. Those individual actions may not be felt or remembered on the world stage. They may never be known or recognized by anyone. But every offer of kindness, every selfless act, every contribution you make towards a better world will, indeed, make our world a better place.

We thought about naming the event “The Feel Good Sunday.” We expect that when you leave the panel discussion that day, you will leave with a smile. Come and hear about the kindness of strangers in response to unthinkable tragedy, and consider how you can make a difference to someone else every day, in little ways that count.


September 11, 2001: High above the North Atlantic Ocean en route from Frankfurt, Germany, Delta Flight 15 was not quite five hours into the flight to Atlanta, Georgia, where Columbus Ohio resident Shirley Brooks-Jones would change planes and arrive home at 6:30 that evening. Shirley closed her eyes and fell into a light sleep, but was suddenly jolted awake when she heard the captain advising passengers about “a slight emergency.” Instead of arriving home at 6:30 that evening, it would be five more days before Shirley would actually set foot in her home. Despite the horror of the terrorist attack of 9/11, Shirley’s life-long belief that most people are good was truly reinforced by what she experienced during her days spent in the tiny town of Lewisporte, Newfoundland, where she was cared for by perfect strangers who have become life-long friends.

Dan Kochensparger was a firefighter with the Upper Arlington Fire Department on September 11, 2001.  He deployed to the World Trade Center collapse as a member of Ohio Task Force One, one of 28 urban search and rescue units that are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Arriving in New York the morning of September 12, he worked with fellow rescuers for 10 days at Ground Zero. Dan witnessed remarkable acts of kindness and caring from everyday people responding to the unthinkable disaster with their outpouring of support.

Jason Thomas was serving in the military on September 11, 2001, but was home on leave, visiting his parents on Long Island. When he heard reports of the first plane striking the World Trade Center, Jason put on his uniform, got in his car, drove against traffic, and arrived in the vicinity of Ground Zero just as the second tower collapsed. He has stories to tell of all that he saw, including the kindness of strangers.


We are preparing two discussion guides to be used by groups after the event.  If a number of folks from the same group/organization (service organization, church group, club, etc.) choose to attend, the adult guide will provide some thoughtful questions that can be used to start a conversation about how people respond in a crisis, why we are motivated to step forward and help, and how the human capacity for kindness can be harnessed and channeled in our everyday lives.  

There will also be a discussion guide for students (middle school and high school).  These youngsters are from a generation not yet born on 9/11.  What they know of the event is likely to be only of the tragedy, the loss of lives, and the consequences in changing the world stage.  What they NEED to know is that ordinary people responded in extraordinary ways in the aftermath of the attack.  They need to know about the selfless acts of kindness that should be the lasting memory of 9/11.  

The discussion guides will be available for download from this website

on the day of the event.