Posted by Guest on September 11, 2017 in Blog

IMG_6001.JPGBy Sydney Roeder

Strolling quietly into the office today, AAI President Jim Zogby greeted everyone before pointing to a poster on the wall. On it, two tall rectangles made from white words climb above a New York City skyline during dusk, creating an image where the Twin Towers used to stand. “We need to talk about that today,” he noted. Each employee shared accounts of what they experienced the day the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001.  Dr. Zogby shared, too, his experiences and mentioned the death threats both he, and AAI received as a result of the attacks.  Although members of AAI were told to evacuate their office that day, they stayed and worked with special permission.  The Arab American community needed them.

The image hung in the office is one that was created by Bill Brokaw in collaboration with AAI.  The Ad Council ran it as a service announcement in 10,000 newspapers and 1300 magazines across the US.  It was later converted to a full-color poster and TV ad airing on 16 different cable networks. The ad touched the lives of 64 million people.  

IMG_6015.JPGIn addition to recalling stories, young professionals from AAI’s Generations marked 9/11 by participating in the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance this past Saturday.  The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance was launched in 2002 by the nonprofit 9/11 Day with wide support from the 9/11 community and other national service organizations.  It is a tribute to the victims, survivors and activists who rose up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.  

The Generations members, along with other community participants, assisted in cleaning up the school garden at Thurgood Marshall Academy in the Anacostia neighborhood. The garden itself is a teaching tool for students in an after-school program where participants learn about the various fruits and vegetables grown, harvesting practices, and ways to cook the food they cultivate.  The AAI volunteers worked to hack down weeds, dig up roots, and clean up a bench so that the students can access the garden more readily.

Needless to say, the team did a stellar job in cleaning out areas for new fruit trees and setting the stage for mulch to be laid down.  They also had a little fun in the process. AAI Executive Director Maya Berry summed it up saying, “Service is among the most meaningful gestures we can make as a community. As Arab Americans, we are proud to take part in this forward-looking tradition that unites us all.”


Sydney Roeder is a 2017 Fall intern at the Arab American Institute.