September 11, 2009

Today marks the eighth anniversary of a day we will never forget. Whether you know it as “nine-eleven” or “den elfte september”, it’s a day when billions of people around the world were brought together. The events of September 11, 2001, in New York, at the Pentagon and on United flight 93, redefined America, its role and its standing in the global community.

We Americans who watched this day unfold from Sweden will always be grateful for the concern and support we felt from our Swedish friends and colleagues that fateful Tuesday afternoon. Many of us were personally involved in trying to sort out the events and communicate them throughout our Swedish workplaces. Things had changed and everybody knew it.

Like many Americans in Sweden, I’ve not lived in the US since “9/11”. Yet its impact is still felt by us every time we visit home, whether having to still remove our shoes at airports or seeing our non-American family members get fingerprinted upon entry into the US. We feel it through the increased scrutiny of our income tax returns and foreign bank accounts. And perhaps most troubling to me, I sense a lingering paranoia in America as personal freedoms seem to be infringed upon more and more, in the very name of preserving personal freedoms – largely by a new giant federal agency with the almost Orwellian name of Homeland Security.
Change is difficult, but change we must. I believe this is why President Obama, on April 21st of this year, signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, establishing September 11th as an annual National Day of Service and Remembrance.

As one 9/11 family member put it at the time of the Act’s passage, “I cannot think of a more inspiring, appropriate and constructive tribute to my late brother and all those who perished, were injured, or rose in service — to rekindle at least for one day each year, the remarkable spirit of compassion and service that unified our country."
As a club, we were not quite prepared for this year’s National Day of Service and Remembrance; however, at our recent planning retreat, the Board of Directors renewed its pledge to making community service one of the cornerstones of The American Club of Sweden. There are few contributions one can make that are more valuable or personally rewarding than giving of one’s time for the betterment of others. Your Board did commit, as part of this renewed pledge, to cooperate with the US Embassy in planning and conducting a significant community service event on September 11, 2010. We hope you will be able to join us next year, whether Swede, American or friend of America.

For now, though, and on behalf of your Board of Directors, I would like to encourage you to think of even small, spontaneous things you can do today or this weekend, that might contribute to improving your community or this country for which we are all so grateful.
In service and remembrance,
Gary Baker, President

The American Club of Sweden
Box 163 46
SE-103 26, Stockholm