Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.

Remembrance is often personal: We remember our youth, our first car, our first job, and the births of our children and grandchildren. We also remember people we have lost, such as family members, friends, and others from our past.

Remembrance in the context of a personal loss is painful. The days leading up to the anniversary of a death can seem ominous as they approach. We’re often melancholy, reflective, and in awe of how many years have gone by since a loved one has been gone. Such days are when we’re in most need of a friend, someone with whom to relive memories, share old photographs, and talk about our feelings.

Sometimes, whole communities suffer losses that are seared into our collective memory. Anyone who was alive on Dec. 7, 1941, Nov. 22, 1963, or Sept. 11, 2001, will never forget what they were doing or how they felt when they heard the news.

For those who lived through such events, anniversaries can trigger the same emotions as a personal loss – except it is felt across the community. These are the days when all of us need to use our power to connect with friends, neighbors, or even strangers to share our collective grief and history.

Photo of candles during a community remembrance

A generation after 9/11

It’s hard to believe that 21 years have passed since terrorists hijacked jetliners and attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. The magnitude of that day can still feel so overwhelming to those of us who lived it. We still feel the same emotions we felt watching the news as the cascading events flowed over us in that dark morning and through that agonizing day. And we remember the country coming together in the aftermath.

As the years pass, we are being joined by a new generation of people who are too young to remember or were not alive on Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, more than a quarter of the people alive today are too young to remember the horror of that day or how the nation reacted in the days following the attacks.

This new generation may not have first-hand memories of 9/11, and they need to be told of the community’s shared loss – and the response. This responsibility falls to those of us who lived through the experience. Use your power today to talk to a member of this young generation and share how you felt – and how you are feeling – about this anniversary.

Remembrance on Grandparents Day

As we remember a national tragedy, we also celebrate the people who in many families are most responsible for passing down memories and sharing stories with younger generations. Today is also Grandparents Day.

If you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents in your life, don’t forget to give them a call and invite them to share stories. In our family, our grandkids know they don’t have to call – we’re always the first to reach out. Once you’re a grandparent, you can always make the first move!

A family celebrates grandparents day.

We were reminded of the special relationship between grandkids and grandparents by a story shared by Matt, a community member who told us about a fishing trip he took with his grandfather a few days before the world changed in September 2001.

Matt recalled a deep-sea fishing trip he took with his grandfather on Sept. 6, 2001 – and the stories his grandfather told during the ride about living during the Depression and serving in the Navy in World War II.

I always loved spending time with him because he had so much history to share. But one of my favorite stories about him took place the Thursday before 9/11, which is one of the reasons it stands out in my mind.

I remember watching him fish and thinking about all that he lived through and all the highs and lows in his long life as he calmly looked out over the choppy sea. I just appreciated him so much, and then 9/11 happened, and it was almost like that power of remembrance had been passed to me so that I can tell my young children not only about their great-grandfather, but also about that fateful day in American history.

Why community remembrance matters

Keeping the memories alive of those who have gone before us is one of our most important and under-appreciated powers we have as adults. It is vital for us to retell stories about tragic and heroic acts, and how the deceased once lived, once thrived, and once loved.

When we do so, our memories and shared histories are passed down through generations. It can be as simple as how a great-grandmother made the best cherry pie or as profound as the national response to a tragic event like Sept. 11. What matters is that these stories are shared and live on as a lesson to future generations.

All the best,

Chris & Jim

Author

Jim McCann is the founder, CEO, and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. as well as a business leader, author, and philanthropist with a passion for helping people deliver smiles. Devoted to helping others, he also founded Smile Farms, a 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful jobs in agricultural settings to young adults and adults with developmental disabilities.

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