ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - September 2002


Tribute to America:
How Our Lives Have Changed Since September 11

A year has passed since the tragic events of September 11, but many Americans still are dealing with changes that have occurred to their beliefs and values, as well as their work and personal lives. News for a Change invited AQP members to share their perspectives on how these changes have affected them.

The El Paso, TX-Juarez, Mexico, border used to transcend all customs and immigration matters. Life at the border is completely different since 9-11. Before then, it was possible for us to visit our relatives across the border. It was easy to have lunch in Juarez, get across the International Bridge, and still be back in El Paso in time to return to work. Security has been on alert since 9-11, so it now takes us more than two hours to get back. El Paso-Juarez citizens used to rely on each other not only for family matters, but also for commercial and industrial purposes.
Raymundo Gomez

One of the changes that have taken place, beginning immediately after 9-11, caught me off guard. When I instruct “The Effective Project Management Workshop,” participants raise the issue about the importance of “security” as a newly added facet to their projects. So, if the project is to plan the company picnic, build a new parking lot, or redo the cafeteria, security is NOW an issue to consider.
Gary Turner

I always knew that I lived near a great country and felt very safe. The thought that there would be an attack on our “big brother” country was never imagined. The attack made me reconsider the value that I place on each day of life and how in a manner of minutes it can be changed. As I stood and stand beside American citizens who lost loved ones, and as I think of the inhuman act of 9-11 that showed our vulnerable side, I am determined to work as one to make North America safer and stronger. I am a very proud Canadian. I want to ensure that we all are safe, and I congratulate all who can make a difference and do. This is not the time to be passive. This is the time to listen to the leaders who can make a difference and provide the support that each Canadian and American citizen can provide—regardless of religion, color, or creed. Grow in strength and flourish!
Lillian Mahoney

All of us have heard the phrase “stop and smell the flowers.” I think this phrase describes the changes in my life since 9-11. I am 37 years old and my focus has always been on education and career. Since 9-11, I have married for the first time. We are making plans to build a house and start a family. We made sure during the wedding planning that we included several opportunities to get family and old friends together. Today I am more likely to take off work a few minutes early for a round of golf.
Marty Watson

Since 9-11, I learned what emergent leadership is really all about—in myself and others. On that day, the director of our leadership-training center was in Washington, DC, and I took charge of our federal facility to deal with more than 200 stranded government leaders in residence here for training. Many of these leaders had been officers in our armed forces prior to their current careers and I expected to have many helpful people supporting me. Instead, I faced a sea of shocked, tearful faces when I gathered everyone for an all-hands meeting. In the days immediately following 9-11, we raised our security to Threatcon Delta, handled media attempts to descend upon us, got mission-essential people back to their duty stations by land—all while Hurricane Gabrielle approached. I never knew I had it in me to find the right words, to make the right connections, and to earn the gratitude so many people expressed to me for my actions and demeanor. I was an emergent leader “in the now”—with no sense of ego, just focused resolve.

Meanwhile, mid-level managers throughout the Federal Aviation Administration were the true heroes, as USA Today so accurately reported in several stories. All over America, they safely closed down our air space until the threats could be controlled, and then they restarted thousands of dislocated aircraft back on track the following Friday.

Other public servants and professionals stood firm in the anthrax scare—most of them deep behind the scenes, such as medical technologists, primary care physicians, mental health workers, and pharmacists. Finally, in an astounding Atlantic Monthly series, you can read the “Unbuilding of the World Trade Center” to discover emergent leadership that accomplished far more than the official organizations could.
Roberta Sappington

Since 9-11 many things have changed but mostly our attitude toward life and each other. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is truly a creed to live by. So a meeting starts 15 minutes late or someone asks you to make copies after they’ve walked by two copiers trying to find you; worse things could happen. Our day-to-day problems were minimized last September as we all watched the scenes unfold on a small television used for training. It made us appreciate each other and gave us the ability to judge what’s really important and what’s just a minor inconvenience.
Amy Haschel

America was put on a breathless alert on 9-11 that the new millennium would not only be a time to reflect on what “was” for our country, but also for what is yet to come. I have found that this tragic event forced me to look at my family, career, country, and God in a different light. Perhaps these treasures are taken for granted by the average American, but I know that I make more of an effort to kiss my wife and child goodnight to assure me they are safe. I go to church now with a greater sense of faith and seek to understand something greater than myself. I look forward to saying the pledge of allegiance to our flag and singing the national anthem at a ballgame with renewed pride. Tonight, kiss your children goodnight, thank God, and be proud to be an American.
Tim Bearden

I will never forget what was done to our country that day; 9-11 has changed all of our lives forever. What I think about the most, though, are all the heroes that showed up that day. From the police department, to the fire department, to the people in the buildings, and to the people that took over that plane. They are all true heroes and should be equally remembered as true heroes. What they did for this country that day, I cannot and will not ever forget. Now, when I say the pledge of allegiance or hear the national anthem, I get a tear of pride in my eye.
Ray Benedict

Before 9-11, the number 911 was a security number, a number to call for assistance. This has been ingrained in me as well as in many others in America. Seeing 911 on police cars or on telephone equipment in large letters meant that this was an access number to report any emergency or life-threatening situation. After 9-11, this is still the case but it now is also a sad reminder. I feel a sadder America. The freedoms I cherish and have been used to are not the same as before 9-11. I feel a pall in the air, as if the smoke and ashes rising from Ground Zero have not subsided. Though we go on with our daily lives as normally as we can, the definition of normal has changed in my life’s journey.
Christopher K. Ahoy

I am a Filipino-American. I have been raised in this country since I was six months old and the United States is the only home I know. September 11 has filled me with pride in my country and sorrow for my brethren whose lives were lost in that fateful day. It has also brought back memories of my childhood.

My mother went to night school to get her U.S. citizenship while my father was overseas in the Navy. She studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights so that she could proudly present her certificate to my father when he came home. This was a big accomplishment for a woman with a second-grade education. My mother was unable to attend school because of the war between the Philippines and Japan. She had to help support her brothers and sisters.

September 11 is a reminder that although we have to retain the pride we have of our origins, America has its own culture and its own heritage. If we have the opportunity to live in this great country, it is our duty as citizens to take pride in our American culture and heritage first and foremost. If we live in this country, the primary language is English. We are also allowed the freedom of speech without retribution, and we the people control the means of production and distribution.

If you disagree with these basic rights and freedoms, you are living in the wrong country. The one thing that has changed since 9-11 is the pride we take in these United States. Although we are a tolerant people, our vigilance is forever changed. We can never again take for granted the rights and freedoms this country has afforded us.
Janet Piechocki

There is more uncertainly in the world now, but my beliefs are the same. Because most persons are uncertain about the future, there is more of a need to focus on positive principles that enable us to survive today and thrive in the future. Improvement is the only alternative. The changes in the world should help us to recognize the importance of understanding everyone and the situations they face. Those that I care about the most continue to let me know about their caring, and I continue to let them know of my caring for them.
Larry Beckon

As I contemplate how my life, work, and relationships have changed since 9-11, I can only come up with greater value and dignity. My work has focused on the value of each individual in organizations, communities, and my family. With this focus on individual value, I also have challenged my clients to build organizations that support the dignity of each person through mechanisms of inclusion in all aspects of their work and service.

More specifically, we have committed ourselves to the “Great Peace Giveaway” project. We are assisting in developing and facilitating a national youth dialogue on peace and violence, which we hope will be compiled in a book called, The Peace Book for Kids and Teens, written by kids and teens.
Kevin Boyle

I work in an insurance company with many policy owners in the New York area and the events of 9-11 have obviously affected my life. However, it seems my home life has been impacted the most. My son was born in January 2001 and has been the joy of my life ever since. Only eight months into his life, his world was completely changed; his childhood will be so different from the carefree days of my husband’s and my youth. My child’s existence has created a sense of vulnerability that I have never known and now I hold him a little closer every day.
Lisa Fiorini-Puskey

The events of 9-11 have made me value human life and the journey of life more than I did in the past. The tragic ending of so many beautiful and heroic souls makes me conscious daily of one of the precepts I treasure: “If I can do a good turn for someone today, let me do it for I might never get a chance to do it again.”

Those of us who have positions of responsibility in human resources and make decisions that affect people’s lives have been given a sacred trust that we must exercise wisely. As we contemplate employee change—both growth and downsizing—we must always, always keep in mind that we are dealing with people and their lives.
Pete Fornal


Return to top

September 2002 News for a Change Homepage


 In This Issue...
Looking Back a Year Later—How Americans Have Dealt With the Changes

Journal of a Visitor to Tragedy

Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going?

Tribute to America:
How Our Lives Have Changed Since September 11

Book Nook

From Our Perspective

What's Up?


  Return to NFC Index

  • Print this page
  • Save this page

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this item

View comments
Add comments
Comments FAQ

ASQ News