The day began like most Tuesday mornings at Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Company was growing fast. We had recently moved into our new Corporate Headquarters near the Pittsburgh Airport. My office window overlooked the airport. I never had much time to gaze out the window and look at the coming and goings of the airplanes. Managing a $70 million product category demanded all of my attention.
Todd, one of my co-workers, came over to me and said “you gotta go down to the fitness room and watch what’s going on. Some airplane crashed into the WTC in New York”. I head downstairs into the Fitness room, where we had several TV Monitors overhead above the treadmills. There were several other co-workers in the room. We were mesmerized, confused about what we were witnessing. All CNN could tell us was that an airplane had crashed into the WTC. I went back upstairs to my desk to work. The weekly Business Recap report was due that morning.
A while later, a swell of my co-workers started heading back downstairs to the TVs. I followed. This time, the Fitness Room was packed with people. People from Operations, Finance, Merchandising and IT. The entire brain trust of the company was in that room. And we were mortified with what was transpiring. The first tower had collapsed. Reports were coming in about the Pentagon. Then the second tower collapsed.
I witnessed that live, as it was happening. I couldn’t fathom what I was seeing. Was it the death of tens of thousands of people? Who did this. Why? Why was this happening? Where we next? Was this the start of a war? Nothing in my years of education and experience could have prepared me for this. For the first time in my life I was rendered speechless. I just couldn’t think. All I could do was stare at the screen, at the images.
Soon after, the Company President came down and told everyone to go home to our families. I rushed upstairs to try and call Janet. She wasn’t home. I tried calling the school where Savannah was at and couldn’t get through the phone lines. They were slammed.
I couldn’t make the 90-minute commute fast enough. But the drive was eerily calm. Surreal. I made eye contact with other drivers at the traffic lights. We all had that same haunting look in our faces – that scared look we get when we realize things are beyond our control. But no one cut anyone off. No one tailgated. No one flipped anyone off. We all were worrying about getting home to our families, yet that day we also cared about strangers getting home to their families.
I arrive to the school to get Savannah out of her First Grade class, and it was quiet panic. Most parents had already picked up their kids. I knew many of the other parents still there. We didn’t need to say anything to each other. We all just wanted our children safe. I see Savannah, and picked her up and gave her a long hug. She was confused about what was going on. I told her that everything was alright, that she didn’t have to worry.
We get home and Janet was there, in front of the TV. Courtney was playing in the other room. Janet was seven months pregnant with Douglas. I was relieved to have my family all together and safe at home.
I sent Savannah into the playroom and sat down to watch the coverage. By then, word had come out about Flight 93’s crash. The Pentagon was burning. The White House, we were told, was next. All flight were grounded. Fighter jets were scrambled. The nation was under attack. Someone did this to us.
I remember the people jumping to their deaths. The brave First Responders running into a burning building. Those heroes on Flight 93 who took matters into their own hands. I didn’t lose anyone I knew that day, but I can relate. There were many victims that day. I hope the 9/11 survivors find tranquility and are able to move on with their lives.
Some of the things we did collectively as a nation since 9/11 is wrong. The TSA is a joke – I HATE to fly anymore because security is nothing but theater. Homeland Security is a slush fund for local law enforcement agencies. We went into Iraq only because of Bush’s obsession with Saddam and Big Oil. The Carlyle Group shepherded the Bin Laden family out of the US and back into Saudi Arabia right after 9/11, what’s up with that? We blew it at Tora Bora and it took us almost 10 years to get Bin Laden. The Patriot Act is a joke – anyone recall the 4th Amendment? We killed 200,000 people in Iraq. That’s gonna come back to bite us.
We STILL don’t have a sensible energy policy. We STILL back Israel 100% while pooh-poohing the Palestine Occupied territories. We STILL maintain a military force on stand-by in Germany and South Korea.
Our materialistic society comes at a terrible cost. The sweatshop workers in China and India. The environmental pillage of Nigeria in the name of oil. Blood Diamonds. The violence in Mexico to feed our insatiable, un-winnable “War on Drugs”. Big Sugar.
Our nation has to change the way we grow our food, the way we build our homes, the way we move about. We eat too much, we live in unsustainable housing, we waste energy driving huge vehicles.
I am happy that we killed Bin Laden. He was evil and deserved to be shot on sight. But he did have a point. The problem is us. We’ve become too materialistic. More stuff isn’t going to make us any happier. Let’s teach our children the true lesson of 9/11. To find peace within ourselves, and with others.