91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
American Character Week
A week to celebrate courage and helping others
By Heather Holliday

American Character Week will emphasize four activities:
  1. Discussing and studying the lives of Americans of extraordinary character.
  2. Recognizing local people who have demonstrated exceptional character in the past year.
  3. Teaching young people about careers in public service. Young people will also be encouraged to consider careers in public service.
  4. Providing community-service opportunities. Young people will be encouraged to volunteer for at least one hour during American Character Week as a first step to a life of regular community service.
Cydni Joubert, 8, and her classmates at Walnut Hill Elementary in Dallas, Texas, are raising money for police dogs. "We're going to help police dogs because on September 11 they went into the burning buildings," she said. The money will be donated to K-9 units for dogs with health problems. Her class will probably raise the money by washing cars. Their fund-raising car wash will be part of American Character Week.

The 12-Day Week
American Character Week will run September 6–17, 2002. Schools and communities across the nation have events planned for the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Activities will celebrate courage, compassion, and community service.

The week is meant to focus on the fact that after the terrorist attacks, "we saw people at their very best," said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, which created American Character Week. The Coalition is a group of schools, communities, and organizations that teach the importance of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

Scheduled events will wrap up with a Pledge Across America on September 17 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Coordinated by Celebration USA, an organization that teaches children about American democracy, the Pledge of Allegiance will be recited at the same time by people all across the country.

"It's a moment to reflect on the importance of life and on who you are," said Josephson about American Character Week. "We want to encourage kindness and compassion, like immediately after 9/11, when people weren't even honking at each other."

The Week in Action
Each community is participating in its own way. On September 9 and 10, at the Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, youths will bake flag-decorated cookies to distribute at a child-care center. On September 10, in Higley, Arizona, sixth- through eighth-graders will read books to kids in younger grades. The stories will highlight people of character. On September 11, students in Reston, Virginia, will plant trees to restore landscaping that was burned in a 2000 fire.

For Cydni, the week is an opportunity to do what she likes to do every day. "I like to help people," she said.

Do you think these kids are heroes? To nominate a hero into our Hall of Heroes, click here.