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Remembering 9-11

When American Airlines Flight 11 went into the North Tower, I was sitting in a computer certification class in my hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. We were 15 minutes from the Pentagon, and 25 minutes from Washington, D.C.. I remember it clearly. My computer instructor came in and told us a plane had hit the tower. We thought it a horrible, freak accident. Unable to get the news report in the classroom, we continued on. Less than 20 minutes later at 9:03 AM, United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower. A little more than 30 minutes after that, American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, a mere 15 minutes away from my location.

That’s when the skies grew quiet.

A short time later we got the TV working, in time to see people leaping from the towers, and then to watch both towers collapse.

It was later we learned of the heroism of those on board United Airlines Flight 93, who sacrificed themselves by crashing their plane in Pennsylvania. Their selfless act saved untold thousands of lives.

Sunrise USA

Emotions From The Day

The memories of that day evoke a mixture of emotions: sadness for those who died, thanks to the citizens for their selfless act, anger at the terrorists who perpetrated the act, and pride in the response of my fellow Americans.

For years after 9-11, whenever I saw video of the Twin Towers smoking and collapsing, an unfettered anger rose within me. It strengthened my resolve to continue helping build my great country, and increased my national pride in our response.

Supporting Our Military

I fully support our military. While I don’t support every military action our leaders take, I support those men and women who voluntarily put themselves in harms way to preserve our freedom. And I extend that support to our intelligence and other agencies, who work with our military to keep us safe.

Make no mistake, there have been many terrorist plots foiled since 9-11 thanks to their efforts. These plots have targeted US assets overseas, and here at home.

I thank all who risk their lives protecting us and our way of life.

America Will Continue To Be Great, If…

America is a great country. And we have work to do.

We’re in a presidential election season, which makes it an uncertain time. Our government representatives seek to bolster their party’s candidate by either working to pass or block legislation, and businesses are waiting until after the election to hire people.

Politics today is more partisan than ever. And while partisanship isn’t bad – debate is never a bad thing – not helping the country is. Don’t get me wrong, the issues are complex. The biggest issues facing America today, as I see it, are:

  1. Education – higher education is expensive. We need education that is affordable for many more Americans. In addition, we need education that prepares our citizens for the jobs that are available now, and will be in the future. We also need management education that isn’t laser focused on bottom-line profits.
  2. Jobs – there are jobs available now, however we don’t have workers educated or trained to be able to perform them. In addition, we need jobs that allow people to have a middle-class lifestyle.
  3. Healthcare – healthcare is freakishly expensive here in the US. As a percentage of GDP, the U.S. has the highest spending in the world. I pay $6,000 each year for our insurance policy. That figure doesn’t include co-pays or other expenses. We’re young and healthy. And we’re lucky. I know people paying 2-3x that. Having a healthy population is a necessity for a strong country.

I’m not a politician, merely a concerned citizen. If want the facts and figures, which have been fact-checked, watch Bill Clinton’s DNC speech:

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Stepping Off My Soapbox

Today, we are facing many challenges at local and global levels. The issues are complex, and there is no magic bullet.

As a country, we must continue to work together and move forward. There are billions of people in other countries waiting to eat our lunch. We can and should work with some of those people. Though we should continue to pursue our interestes abroad and those of our citizens, America isn’t an island. On Earth, we are more connected now than ever before.

If I’ve learned anything being an entrepreneur these past 14 years, it’s this:

  1. One person alone can only do so much. It takes a team to build a great company.
  2. In order to have a truly great company, you must focus on building up and strengthening the people within that company.
  3. Leadership that holds fast and true to clear ideals must be at the helm.

I urge you to read up on the issues and form your opinion, rather than allowing the media to spoon-feed you one. I urge you to vote for the candidate whom you feel closest to on the issues that you’re concerned about. I urge you to be a leader and example for those around you.

I urge you to be great, for through your greatness so too shall our country, the country I love with all my heart, be great.

Comments

  1. well written article, I think we all have vivid memories of 911 and what we were doing at the time….I like the way you’ve gently urged us to read up on the issues and form our own opinions, rather than allowing the media to spoon-feed us…I really do feel they are being a bit guarded with the whole truth and are keepng us in the dark about certain things.

    • Your last point is an interesting one Amelia. Recently, we’ve seen politicians really show their true colors, and then have to back peddle. Thankfully for us, cameras are aplenty as it Internet access. Good for us, not so good for them.

  2. I was on my way out the teachers lounge to teach a science class, and saw the unbelievable footage on the TV. It was confusing… difficult to get my brain wrapped around the reality. I kept running back to the office for news to bring back to the class, and wondering if my friends and family who work in Manhattan were safe.

    The debates that followed were illuminating. American foreign policy profoundly affects just about every country, including small Caribbean states. It was reassuring to hear that no-one had any sympathies for people who could just attack innocent people like that. At the same time, it was disturbing that the more educated and informed among us also felt that U.S. foreign policy in the cold war era actually did a lot to help the cause of lunatics like Ben-Laden. I happen to be one of them.

    So Robert, this is why I applaud your call for the ordinary citizen to be keenly interested in how your elected representatives look out on the rest of the world. Decisions made in Washington can literally make or break us outside the U.S. just as it does inside. Be keen to see the danger in politicians who can barely contain their disdain for other viewpoints besides their own, and are skilful at hiding their discriminating and even racist views underneath rhetoric that sounds patriotic, or like sound economics. Whichever party they belong to, such leaders do nothing more than create misery for all of us.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Rodney. Personally, I think it’s more than our foreign policy that breeds terrorists. It’s a combination of factors, one of which is how our foreign policy is viewed. Others include abject poverty and lack of education. The latter two reasons are why we need a strong, educated middle class here in the United States.

      I understand that people are busy, however there is no excuse not to educate yourself on the politics of the day. Now, that’s easy for me to say as I sit in comfort behind my Mac, working to build a company, while others are struggling to make ends meet. However, it’s true. The decisions made by our leaders effect us here at home, and how we are viewed abroad.

      When I lived in Thailand, I was amazed by the number of people that didn’t like the United States (not necessarily the citizens) because of the policies of the Bush (HW) administration. Even with President Obama at the helm, it didn’t help their view on us.

      Your last two sentences ring very true for me. Like in the earlier years of the United States, we need to work together to keep moving forward. Otherwise, there are a few billion people ready to eat our lunch.

      I’d prefer to eat my own lunch.

  3. Thanks for this post, Robert. I remember that day so well. I was driving in my car, in shock after seeing the TV set. And the oddest occurrence, I ran across a turtle who’d been hit by a car. It was sitting still in the middle of the road, it’s shell cracked, and it was bleeding profusely. My instinct was to pull over, grab the turtle, hold it in my lap and race it to the wildlife rehabilitation center.

    I’m driving in the car, listening to the horrible news – the loss of thousands – and I’m trying to rescue a turtle! I felt silly, but I could not change what I felt needed to be done.

    I did rescue that turtle. The vets at the Animal Rehabilitation Center duct taped the shell and gave him antibiotics, and 10 months later, he was eventually released back in the lake he was trying to get to in the first place.

    I learned a simple lesson that day. I can’t always change the world. I can’t always help in the places we want to be helping or the ways that I most want to help. But right in front of me there are needs, and I can either address them, or sit by.

    I think what all Americans have to do, above all, is look for the need right in front of our noses, whatever it is, and ask ourselves, “Am I doing what I can to help.”

    Every time I am reminded of 911, this thought pops in my head: “Down 5000 Americans. Up 1 turtle. It wasn’t what I most wanted, but I did what I could do.”

    Thanks, Robert, for remembering, and for the reminder to us all to remember that day called 911.

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