Thirteen years is not a very long time in the scope of history, but in our tiny lives it can feel very long. Thirteen years ago, I was still in my 20s, trying to make ends meet off of two jobs, and headed for two life-changing events that would shape me for the years to come. Who I am now is a direct result of both of these things…one of them being the Attacks on 9/11. It can sound cheezy, and silly to some, but like the baby boomers and the Kennedy Assassination, I grew up a lot on that fate-filled day in September 2001.
It was a bumper deal for me…I had managed to get two days off in a row…and any of you who have worked or work in retail know, that’s still a feat to pull off. So for the first time in 5 months, I was going to go to bed and sleep for a full 8 hours. It’s the small things in life that make it bearable, right? 🙂 So I fell asleep the night of September 10, 2001 with the radio on tuned to KLOS here in Los Angeles. I’m awakened at 5:55am by the morning hosts, Mark & Brian, talking about a great tragedy…and something about a plane crash. At one point, my sleepy brain registers the request from them…”If you haven’t, go to a television and turn it on.”
So I did. Part of me still wishes I hadn’t.
6:01 am. Bleary-eyed and confused, I stumble out to the living room of the house I share with my best friend and his girlfriend. I can hear them moving around upstairs in their morning routine, trying to be quiet because they think I’m asleep. I flick that old television on, and it warms up right to channel 4 NBC news. There it is…the image of the World Trade Center, smoking and probably on fire. PLANE HITS THE WORLD TRADE CENTER at the bottom of the screen. “Oh how horrible,” I think. “How did that happen?” There is speculation abound on the news, and as usual, they are making plenty of suppositions about the “accident” and what it means. I sit there stunned. This is pretty horrible…one of the worst things I think I have ever seen. Behind me I somewhat hear my best friend say, “Hey Mike, why are you…” That sentence never gets finished…
6:03am – The second plane strikes the South Tower on live television. The video is burned into our collective memory forever.
Like most Americans I was glued to the television for several hours…watching one of the greatest losses of life on American Soil go through its motions. The falls of each of the towers, the Pentagon being hit, and Flight 93 going down in a field in PA. The sense of loss and helplessness was traumatic, I knew I had to do something…anything. I had to change who I was.
Looking back, that day helped me to understand that I needed to be helping others. Not just lending a hand, but to help fight the lack of hope that impacts peoples’ lives. I went on to turn a collectible card game challenge into a food-raising powerhouse for Food Banks across the US, and for charities in europe. I know now that even after I left that company, the team took the amount raised to over 100 tons in 6 years. Now I look back on the friends made in doing that, and feel proud of everyone involved who helped organize those drives. Watching kids who didn’t have a lot give what they could, and those who had more give even more than expected. It taught me that humanity is still good at heart.
When I moved into tech sales, I made it my creed that it was my job to help IT Managers and companies get what they needed…not just quick fixes, but to help them build long lasting solutions that would keep their companies running well for years. I’ve been lucky to have been a part of helping so many clients over the past 6 years…I look forward to helping every day. I hope you can do the same.
Peace to all of you…friends, acquaintances, co-workers, readers and all. I leave you with two important quotes to me:
“Courage is not just a matter of not being frightened, it’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.” – The 3rd Doctor, Doctor Who (Jon Pertwee)
“No one has the answer, But one thing is true, You’ve got to turn on evil, When it’s coming after you,
You’ve gota face it down, And when it tries to hide, You’ve gota go in after it, And never be denied,
Time is runnin’ out, Let’s roll.” – Neil Young, “Lets Roll” (Tribute to the victims of Flight 93 and their heroics)