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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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:
- One person alone can only do so much. It takes a team to build a great company.
- In order to have a truly great company, you must focus on building up and strengthening the people within that company.
- 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.