By BOB MIODONSKI
MY FIRST BUSINESS trip after last Sept. 11 was, by coincidence, to New York City. While I was there, I ate lunch with a friend in the industry who been in the city a month earlier when the terrorist attacks had occurred.
I listened to him talk about his experiences, which were compelling to say the least. I’m sure many of you have heard similar stories from people you know personally or have seen on TV.
What stayed with me just as much, though, were his recollections of what New York was like in the days right after the attacks. The city was almost eerily quiet, he said, and not because people were staying home.
Instead, it was because cars, taxis and delivery trucks weren’t blasting their horns at one another. Drivers were courteous and watching out for the other guy. Pedestrians similarly tended to be quiet and respectful toward one another because of the horrible day they had gone through together.
I’ve had occasion to travel to New York a few times since then. While the city – and the country, for that matter – will be changed forever by the events of last Sept. 11, I’ve noticed that the noise level on the streets of New York is pretty much back to normal.
But why should New Yorkers be any different than the rest of us? In the days immediately after the planes crashed in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, how many of us vowed that the events of 9/11 would change the way we looked at our lives, our families, our businesses and our country? We viewed Sept. 11 as a wake-up call for us to concentrate on what was really important in life and not worry about the trivial stuff.
Here we are a year later, though, and many of us are pretty much back to normal. No one inside or outside New York, Washington or Pennsylvania can ever forget what happened that day, but many of the emotions we experienced in 9/11’s immediate aftermath seem to have dissipated.
In fact, in the days leading up to Sept. 11, 2002, published surveys indicated that many Americans were tired of hearing stories about the events of a year earlier and dreaded a 9/11 media barrage on the one-year anniversary. One survey stated that the majority of survivors and family members of victims wanted the day to be marked with dignity and meaning.
Finding meaning in the attacks of 9/11 still is almost impossible a year after they happened. As we noted then, people who protect lives, serve others and build things for a living always will have trouble comprehending those whose only purpose is destruction.
If we want to see any meaning at all, we may discover it in how we felt right after the attacks occurred. We’ll certainly find it too in the heroic actions of the firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers who sacrificed themselves to help others. And we’ll remember those individuals from our industry and outside it who put aside their personal and business needs to join the rescue effort or raise relief money because they’re good people who wanted to lend a hand.
The rebuilding of the Pentagon began almost immediately after the attacks and is almost complete. The work that needs to be done in New York will take longer, and people from our industry will play a vital role in restoring the city.
In the years ahead, no one will forget the attacks of 9/11. It would be a shame not to remember how we felt toward one another and our country in the days after 9/11 as well.