There are few days in U.S. history more consequential or somber than September 11, 2001. Every year since the deadly attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives, Americans have paused on September 11 to remember those who died, and to dedicate themselves to serving their communities.
In December 2001, Congress designated September 11 as Patriot Day, and in 2009, as part of the Serve America Act, the day also became a National Day of Service and Remembrance. By attending a memorial service, sharing your personal memories and experiences or by giving back to your local community this Patriot Day, you can ensure that the indefatigable spirit of the victims lives on.
What Happens Every Patriot Day?
In keeping with its solemn tone, Patriot Day is a time of contemplation and service. In the official White House announcement proclaiming last year's Patriot Day, President Joe Biden described some of the ways the government would be commemorating the anniversary.
All flags flown by government branches, agencies and departments fly at half-staff on September 11. A moment of silence is observed at 8:46 a.m. eastern time, acknowledging the time when the first World Trade Center tower was struck.
There is also an annual observance ceremony carried out by the National Park Service at the Flight 93 National Memorial. This quiet location in southern Pennsylvania is the place where that flight crashed on September 11 when heroic passengers and crew prevented it from becoming part of the attacks.
The public service organization AmeriCorps also designates September 11 as one of its two annual National Days of Service, alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The group encourages individuals to pledge to serve their neighbors and offers web resources that connect people with opportunities to help out near them.
Beyond these nationwide and local commemorations, each person can go into their community and perform acts of service on their own to ensure they are showing a resolute, civic-minded spirit on this tragic anniversary. This is an opportunity to put good into the world as part of mourning and remembrance.
What Are Some Ways to Observe Patriot Day?
At first, it can be difficult to know how to mark a somber day like September 11. However, there are numerous ways to remember the tragedy and honor the sacrifices of those who died that day through giving back to your community.
Perhaps the most fundamental part of observing the National Day of Service and Remembrance is simply showing love and kindness to the people in your life, friends, family and strangers alike. This attitude is a good foundation for acts of service, and a way to show that you honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives.
In a more concrete sense, you can also take part in volunteer projects. The National Park Service recommends getting out to serve, and runs its own events, some in conjunction with groups such as The Mission Continues, a nonprofit community impact group that helps veterans acclimate to lives at home following after they've served.
You can also share memories and reminiscences to ensure the sacrifices of those who perished on September 11, 2001, as well as the first responders who gave so much of themselves to provide assistance on that day, lives on. One of the legacies of September 11 is that everyday people can find heroism within themselves, and honoring that is part of Patriot Day.
We at AFBA hope you'll join us in honoring those who gave their lives September 11, 2001, and those who committed brave acts of service that day, on Patriot Day 2023 and beyond.
Cybersecurity is nothing to take lightly. The U.S. government was part of a global cybersecurity breach led by Russian-speaking hackers that stole employee data and much more in June of 2023. When a cybercriminal steals data information, they could become privy to someone's most sensitive details from their location and phone number to their Social Security number and passwords.
The Department of Defense and other government agencies process highly sensitive government records that if leaked, could jeopardize national security. This is why the Department of Defense and Homeland Security are working together to develop stronger methods of protection.
Here's an overview of the latest information.
Lifting the responsibility
In March of 2023, the Biden-Harris administration made an announcement that cybersecurity will be a primary focus to protect the interests of the American people and their government.
The first half of this promise aims to lift the responsibility of cybersecurity off of the shoulders of individuals, small businesses and local governments. These expectations are instead placed onto the plates of larger entities that have the means and dexterity to provide such a service.
The administration will leverage the use of public and private collaboration to defend mission-critical information, while increasing regulations on essential industries such as banking and healthcare.
A proactive approach
There is a large gap between a reactive approach to cybersecurity and a proactive approach. Reactive is where a business has some security in place, but is otherwise reacting to every threat that occurs as it's happening in the moment. A proactive approach, however, requires that an entity does everything in its power to prepare its infrastructure long before a threat ever happens — and then develop new methods of security when a breach does occur.
In the White House's address, the administration mentions realigning their focus on a long-term approach to cybersecurity for a more resilient future. This would help ensure that when a breach happens, the effects are minimal and hold no long-lasting damages.
Cybersecurity resilience means reducing technical vulnerabilities and ensuring that all mission-critical information is backed up and separated from the primary modules.
The address says it's focused primarily on ransomware. This occurs when a hacker is able to get into your system and hold some of your data "hostage" through walls of bugs and blockers until you're able to pay their ransom. NetApp notes that ransoms can range from $10,000 to millions, with the highest ever recorded being $70 million. Any business would be devastated by just one attack such as this — especially if the data being held is critical to their business.
The solution is ensuring that all data — especially that which your business is built on — is backed up in several separated spaces as often as possible.
A robust cyber workforce
All of this work is not possible without a capable team of trusted developers and information technology professionals. The U.S. plans to work together with its international allies to develop counter-threats and joint preparedness. Oftentimes, the cost of implementing such a robust system can get high, but together, these expenses are mitigated as much as possible.
In peacetime and in crisis, the government is working hard to protect and reinforce the nation's critical information.
What led up to the Declaration of Independence? Yes, it certified America as being independent of Britain, but influential thinkers like John Adams — who was initially considered a radical for wanting complete separation — didn’t become mainstream until Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” publication. This piece will explore the development of how the idea of full independence came to be.
King George’s mercilessness shaped later public opinion
At the very beginning of the Revolution, most colonists didn’t want independence from Britain, but reconciliation. Still feeling loyal to King George III and Britain but opposed to the extreme taxes and unfair laws imposed upon them, they wanted to make a deal with the king and return as British citizens.
John Adams was one of the first individuals who called for full independence — to make America its own nation and government. However, he and others who thought like him were unable to change the majority opinions of the colonists — for a time.
Public sentiment started to shift as King George III ramped up his efforts to eliminate the rebels. When news of his intentions reached the colonies, the ideals of Adams and other “radicals” rapidly became more popular.
However, even this wasn’t the turning point. Many conservatives still held on to the idea that reconciliation was possible. The notion that America should be fully independent only became cemented in the majority of colonists’ minds after Thomas Paine published a pamphlet titled “Common Sense.”
“Common Sense” and its influence
Thomas Paine’s 47-page “Common Sense” pamphlet was published in Philadelphia in January 1776. Within it, Paine illustrated a passionate ideal for American exceptionalism. Believing America represented a “promise” that could only be achieved through total independence and separation between Americans and Britains, he laid out his case that this was the only natural option.
“Common Sense” was immensely popular. Its ideas influenced a massive number of colonists and galvanized support for the Revolution. By the time the Revolutionary War ended, it had sold about 500,000 copies — an astronomical number for its time. The publication would even influence some parts of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Jumping back to 1776, the Continental Congress soon adopted Paine’s idea of separating from Britain and forging a new nation. On July 2, about seven months after Paine’s publication was released, Congress held a vote on declaring independence. The Declaration of Independence was ratified on the 4th and America became its own nation.
Thomas Paine’s humble beginnings belied his impact on history
Born in Thetford, England in 1737, Thomas Paine had little formal education and was plagued by a series of job failures and tragedies.
His luck would pick up when he met Benjamin Franklin in the spring of 1774. Offering Paine a letter of introduction so he could start a new life there, Franklin suggested he move to the American colonies. In November, Paine would arrive in Philadelphia and soon began editing the Pennsylvania Magazine. It was here he wrote a series of pieces following his ideals.
While nothing he wrote came anywhere near the influence of “Common Sense,” Paine wrote other essays and pamphlets. These included “The Age of Reason” and “Rights of Man,” which discussed religion’s role in society and a defense of the French Revolution, respectively. Another example proving he was well ahead of his time is “African Slavery in America,” a piece condemning the slave trade.
Celebrate the history of America’s independence this July 4th
America may never have been its own nation without the ideals and philosophies of people such as John Adams and Thomas Paine. This Independence Day, be grateful that these immensely influential and historically invaluable individuals helped bring you the liberty you have today.
If you’re a servicemember, veteran, dependent or any other eligible type of passenger, you may qualify for free accommodations on Space-A flights if a vacancy is available.
What is a Space-A flight?
Space-A stands for space-available flight and is also referred to as military hopping. If a Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft has vacancies when traveling between air bases, eligible persons may fill these seats at no charge, according to the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The purpose of Space-A is to give certain types of people the freedom to travel on flights that have vacancies.
Space-A flights can be on commercial airplanes, but they might also be on fuel tankers or cargo aircraft.
The different categories of travelers
Depending on who you are and the reason for your travel, you’re placed in one of six categories. When Space-A considers who gets priority when someone requests to fill a vacancy, the lower categories get picked first. Here are the different categories and what they might include:
Category 1: Emergency leave travel
The emphasis here is on the word “emergency.” People who might qualify for this category include DoD civilian employees who are stationed overseas or full-time American Red Cross employees serving in a military capacity.
Category 2: Accompanied environmental and morale leave (EML)
This might include DoD Dependent School (DoDDS) teachers on vacation or sponsors traveling for EML purposes.
Category 3: Ordinary leave, house hunting TDY
Those on ordinary leave or military members who are house hunting (following PCS orders) generally qualify for this rank.
Category 4: Unaccompanied dependents on EML
Family members on EML are in this tier. This also encompasses DoDDS teachers and their family members.
Category 5: Permissive TDY, students, dependents, post-deployment/mobilization respite absence
If their sponsor is stationed overseas or in Alaska or Hawaii, students fall into this group.
Category 6: Retirees, dependents, reservists and disabled veterans
This category would apply to these types of flyers on vacation, for example.
How to sign up for Space-A flights
Signing up for a Space-A flight is very different from booking a seat on a commercial aircraft. You won’t be using traditional airports or booking accommodation at all; instead, you’ll communicate with an Air Mobility Command (AMC) Passenger Terminal to reserve a spot.
These are instructions to keep in mind, according to AMC. More information can be found on their website.
- Ensure your eligibility. There are six categories of travel that determine your eligibility for Space-A, with lower categories getting higher priority. This includes emergency leave, unfunded travel, and accompanied or unaccompanied environmental and morale leave (EML). Which category you fall into depends on the reason behind your travel and your duty status.
- Check which locations are available. Review your closest AMC Passenger Terminal through their social media page or website.
- Make sure your documents are in order. Look at which travel documents you need to prepare before your flight. This includes your passport (with visas, if applicable).
- Register at an AMC Passenger Terminal.
- Look at flight schedules. There is a 72-hour flight schedule on the American Forces Public Information Management System (AFPIMS) web page.
- Check-in at the terminal counter. Familiarize yourself with any newly updated flight information and declare that you are present. If everything is in order, the terminal will give you a Space-A call when they’re ready for you to board.
Roam the skies for free with Space-A flights
While not everyone is eligible to ride on a Space-A flight under all circumstances, as long as you meet the basic requirements, you can take advantage of this perk. For more information, contact your nearest AMC passenger terminal.