Update: September 11, 2013
Can it be
13 12 years? I cannot fathom the passing of so much time, but time does march on, doesn’t it? I decided to re-post this entry to honor the families of the American Express victims, as well as all who suffered losses unimaginable.
For me, September often makes for a rough landing.
There is the heartbreaking reminder of 9/11; today being one of the most poignant reminders due to the passage of ten years.
It hardly seems possible that 10 years have passed. The memories are so vivid it seems like it was yesterday our world was shattered.
September is also the month we see an increased number of hurricanes here in South Florida.
And, September is my birthday month, which I won’t talk about, even though I just did. Getting older means I have to remember a new number (I often forget how old I am).
September 11, 2001
It was a Tuesday.
Monday night I stayed very late at work. It was already September 11th (after midnight) when I left work at the American Express Service Center building in Plantation, Florida.
I was working late with Wayne, an Instructional Design colleague of mine in Operations Training, at American Express. Wayne and I were putting the finishing touches on our Diversity Appreciation Display, which was to be situated in the huge open atrium space, at the center of the building. (Note about Diversity at American Express: The company didn’t just “talk” about the importance of diversity, it “walked the walk” in a way that I have yet to see in any other company I’ve since worked for. They supported diverse employee networks; WIN (Women’s Industry Network, BEN (Black Employee Network), SALT & CHAI (Christian and Jewish employee networks), and quite a few more.)
Every year, the Diversity Team would dedicate one week to spotlight the importance of diversity at American Express. The 2001 event, however, was going to be a scaled down version of our usual diversity celebration.
This year we were going to have four smaller events (not one big yearly event). The four small events were to focus on different sections of the globe, and the impact that American Express had on that part of the world.
The kick-off of our celebration of the Middle East region of the globe was slated to open at 11:00 a.m., on the morning of September 11, 2001.
Because I had worked so late the night before, ensuring that everything was ready for our Middle Eastern celebration, I did not plan on getting to work until 10:00 a.m.
At about 9:00 a.m. that morning, Wayne called my home and I could tell something was very wrong, but I didn’t know what. He asked if we were going to cancel our celebration. I didn’t understand what he meant – what he was talking about. Then he asked if I had television or radio on. I didn’t. “Turn the TV on,” he urged. I did.
The first plane had just hit and I watched the aftermath. I knew American Express had a huge office in NYC, with thousands of employees. I wasn’t certain if our Headquarters was located in one or both of the World Trade Center buildings. Later I realized that the American Express building was a building adjacent to the towers, and every employee was accounted for. Sadly, that turned out not to be true.
Although the American Express building stood very near the towers, it suffered damages that looked like bite marks in the side of the building, resulting from the explosions. The building was structurally sound and could be saved.
When the first plane hit, a few American Express employees were out in the street, just getting to work and suffered serious injuries as a result of the falling debris. These employees nearly lost their lives, but by the grace of God, survived.
There were American Express employees in one of the towers.
September 11, 2001 is seared in my memory. I will never forget how I felt, where I was, or how so many of us cried together as we saw the second plane hit.
The American Express company, which I worked for nearly seven years, handled the horrendous event and aftermath with incredible class. They have done such a good job to remember the employees who were victims.
Pictured below is the stunning tribute that stands in the lobby of the Headquarters building. I have never seen it, but have read the countless comments describing how remarkable it is. The architect’s name is Ken Smith.
Here are additional photos of the memorial. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rejuvesite/sets/72157603291655578/
I was not able to find pictures of all the eleven victims, instead I used a picture of their memorial stone.
I would have loved to include all the victims who died that day. Instead, I am honoring the 11 employees who perished that day, as well as the family members they left behind.
There were more than 4,000 American Express employees working at the corporate headquarters in NYC, these 11 worked for the American Express Corporate Travel office, located on the 94th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.
The Eleven Tears – American Express Employees:
- Paul Zois
- Sigrid Wiswe
- Lorretta Vero
- Benito Valentin
- Karen Renda
- Anne Ransom
- Lisa Kearney-Griffin
- Bridget Esposito
- Lucy Crifasi
- Gennady Boyarsky
- Yvonne Bonomo
The Diversity celebration that was to start on September 11, 2011, was not “celebrated.” We kept a movie that the created, available for employees, and some photos were left up, that was about it.
It was too emotionally draining to think about a celebration. But, we also didn’t want to discount what we’d planned – it was hardly a celebration of a culture.
We knew the terrorists were of Middle Eastern descent, as were some of our employees. We could not very well show any distaste for that part of the world – that was not a reasonable thing to do, obviously. In the end, it didn’t matter, the sadness and our mourning was not about hating a counrty of people, it was about trying to understand how a small group of human beings could / would attack us as they did.
I think every American felt like they were collectively kicked behind the knees that day. It’s difficult to get up from the floor, though we will and we have.
I think this Creative Whack, by Roger von Oech, works well as today’s post, and here’s why: I’d been thinking about changing the look and feel of my bl;og (yes, again!), but I had to pay for this blog theme, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. But I really liked it. So, after going back and forth for about two weeks, and because life is good to me, I changed my mind!
So, here it is, my new blog site! Tah Daaaaah!
I’m also working on a website, too, but that won’t be finished for a while. I’m developing the site it in Joomla! which is the free, open-source software for building websites. It’s not too difficult, but it’s very time intensive. And, time and patience are exactly what it’s going to take me to build it.
Art and life are always changing. So should ideas and viewpoints. I don’t think it’s wise to be stuck in a rut – immoveable to change. Whether it’s views or beliefs, when the mind is open to new possibilities, it’s possible to change old belief systems.
For instance, the people who talk about “Obama Care” like it was a threat, usually have no idea what it even means!
When people say they don’t want Obama Care they are mouthing what Republican politicians want them to say – blindly and with distaste.
The truth, I believe, is that Republican politicians came up with the phrase “Obama Care” because they are on the side of insurance and drug companies who could lose some money as a result of the plan.
But, honestly…. The percentage of Americans who snarl about Obama Care are those who haven’t got a clue what it’s about!
It’s so easy to do a few minutes of homework on a topic before speaking about it. Think of all the millions of American children and mothers and fathers without any healthcare. That’s what I care about, and that’s one reason why I believe in helping people, not insurance companies. And, it’s not “socialized” medicine.
Many people I know are like me, we have health insurance through work which means any changes will not impact us. However, I wish people would do a bit of research on the topic before stepping on the idea.
The lesser than two evils
This Creative Whack is bizarre! Imagine coming up with those two solutions? One solution is certainly better than the other (putting food in the coffin versus a stake through the heart), but food in a coffin is obviously a wacko idea, too.
I know it happens when there is a critical decision to make about something important, we are sometimes faced with the lessor of two evils. I think this Creative Whack is warning us that it’s easy to settle for a bad idea, especially if it’s easy. It’s important to look at the outcome and the impact of decisions large and small because life is much too short.
It seems like every day I hear ignorant comments about Islam. It’s not a triangle: Muslim/Islam/Terrorism. They do not go hand in hand. It’s simply not true.
It’s terrible to put people into a box based upon faith. To think that Terrorism has anything at all to do with Islam, has no basis in truth. Heck, there are Christian serial murderers, though we don’t call them Terrorists, that’s what they are. It should go without saying that all the religions have their share of murderers and rapists – bad American people acting like terrorists. There is no reason in the world to fear Muslim people in this country. None!
It’s really about fear and fear closes so many doors; stops many opportunities for further research; kills creativity, too.
FDR’s words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” should continue to ring a bell between all our collective ears.
Change is good.
Yes, change is good, but I think I’ll keep this blog design for a while!
To all the men and women who lost their lives in the war against terror; to the innocent men and women who suffered or died on September 11, 2001, the nation thinks of you today, yesterday and many days to come as we realize the evil and destructive Osama Bin Laden is no more.
Condemning this Community Center ( a peaceful community center) in lower Manhattan is playing right into the hands of the Extremists who predicted this would happen in the US.
The Extremists WANT this Islamaphopia to play on and on… Can’t people understand that Terrorists attacked on 9/11, not Muslims???
The Muslim religion is peaceful, loving and as honorable as our religions.
Why can’t people see that fighting against the Muslims is EXACTLY what the extremists want??? Please understand that this vociferous hate mongering is a recruiting tool for the likes of Bin Laden and other groups of that ilk!
It is totally baffling to me why we must be so prejudiced, intolerant and ignorant. Muslims did not attack on 9/11, Terrorists did!!
What religion was McVeigh when he attacked the government building in Oklahoma? What does it matter? If McVeigh were Baptist or Catholic, then we should hate those groups too, right?
Listen to this calm voice of reason from Ron Paul:
“The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for …the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservatives’ aggressive wars.
The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque—a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law—in order to look tough against Islam.
This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended. Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored.”
I truly thought we were governed by laws in this country. When did we become so lawless?
We must wake up and come to our senses.
What happened to “the land of the free and the brave?”
The free and the brave?
Not so much.