A mangled piece of the 360-foot TV and radio antenna that once topped the World Trade Tower North now stands in Washington D.C.’s Newseum, surrounded by 127 front pages of newspapers from around the world that reported on that fateful day, nine years ago. As one might expect, visitors to the museum walk by this exhibit and reflect, shed tears and remember.

There are, no doubt, memorials of this kind all over the United States. Likewise, there are men and women in all walks of life who remain vigilant while  remembering the victims of 9/11. Today, is different, though, as many will formally gather to remember loved ones lost at the hands of vicious terrorists. Among those will be President Barack Obama, who yesterday called on Americans to mark September 11 with acts of community service:

And finally, tomorrow we will commemorate not only the heartbreak of September 11th, but also the enduring values and resilient spirit of America. Both Michelle and I will be joining our fellow citizens in remembering those who were lost on that day and honoring all who exhibited such extraordinary heroism in the midst of tragedy. I’ll have further remarks tomorrow, but for now let me just note that tomorrow is a National Day of Service and Remembrance and I hope each of us finds a way to serve our fellow citizens — not only to reaffirm our deepest values as Americans, but to rekindle that spirit of unity and common purpose that we felt in the days that followed that September morning.

Volunteerism strengthens our country and improves communities; Americans serve each other every day. Some may heed President Obama’s call to service today, others may remember lost loved ones, others may wish they could forget. But for the federal government, September 11 should not be another Earth Day marked by planting trees or cleaning parks. Instead, on this day, our government and leaders should honor the memory of the tragedy of 9/11 by ensuring that terrorist attacks on Americans at home or abroad never happen again.