The 9:57 Project recently held its first community awareness event, the first activity not solely involving student engagements. We would like to thank all those who participated, particularly veteran volunteers Rudy Salcido and Jason McNutt, who spoke at the event. Thanks to Nova Bank and First Merit Solutions for their very generous contributions that will enable future 9:57 Project capabilities.

For eight years, The 9:57 Project has imparted courage, resilience, service, and teamwork to young people by setting the conditions for meaningful conversations between post-9/11 veterans and young people, with the story of the Flight 93 heroes as the starting point. These engagements promote and sustain a multitude of strengths among both groups. In addition to teaching recent American history, these conversations further mindfulness and civics with civility.

Since 2014, over 700 students and scores of veterans have participated in this powerful conversational experience. Since 2014, The 9:57 Project has raised funds, recruited veterans, and conducted trips to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania. In addition to these in-person experiential learning events, The 9:57 Project restructured its capability to provide virtual discussions to any school in America during the 2020-21 school year (the height of the COVID-19 pandemic) and since then has provided 9:57 Project veteran volunteers for in-person visits to facilitate the same type of amazing conversations that occur at the memorial.

In 2021, we wrote a 90-page curriculum guide with New York Times bestselling author Andrew Carroll, director of the Center for American War Letters, and provided it free of charge to any educator in America. And most recently, we began producing our own student-led podcast that invites listeners to hear the magic of conversations between students and veterans.

We are continuing to develop innovative programming as we remain committed to spreading educational and civic benefits far and wide and are undertaking efforts to scale and spread our activities by partnering with like-minded non-profits, undertaking veteran volunteer recruiting efforts, and raising funds to increase capabilities to reach more students, veterans, and educators.

This first awareness event was in Madison, Alabama, just outside of Huntsville and Army Post Redstone Arsenal last week. We had a good crowd: twenty-five folks who ventured to a local craft bourbon distillery owned by a wounded warrior of the War on Terror.

We met new friends and new supporters, but most heartening of all, we spent our time together speaking boldly about encouraging generations of the future. A never-ending feeling of optimism and hope occurs when we talk of the courage that showed up on Flight 93 and other moments on 9/11, or during the years that followed on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

We look forward to many more events like this, but even more so, we look forward to opportunities to engage the next generation in conversations about leadership and building a brighter future. Our first social event was a success; we accomplished many things and had a lot of fun.

John Hamilton

Pictured left to right: Jay Thayer, Sam Bennett, Wade Fox, 9:57 Project co-founder John Hamilton, Felicia Marlow, and Jason McNutt at the first 9:57 Project social event to recruit veteran volunteers and raise community awareness. All served in the 3rd Battalion of the 101st Regiment Aviation of the 101st Airborne Division in the first years of the War on Terror.