As the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001 nears, many Americans will stop to remember where they were as the news reached them on that tragic morning.
For our CEO Tom Billinge, that was a terrifying place: in the air onboard a Boeing 767 jet: the same model of aircraft that had been used in the attacks. As word came an accident happened on the east coast and office buildings had been damaged flights were grounded nationwide. Traveling from Tampa to California suddenly took a different turn. Soon he was driving a rental car from Houston's Love Field back to Tampa.
Here at In the News, we spend our days talking to people on the phone about the news of their lives.
We mostly get to talk to people on good days: after their restaurant or performance has gotten a rave review, their sports team has triumphed, their product has been featured in a leading trade mag. We call firemen who rescue cats from trees and the parents of kids who win the science fair. But we know all about the bad news, too-- the fire and tragedies and deaths that fill the papers every day are also a part of our business.
When Tom returned to Tampa, he was ready. The president had called upon the nation to pray for the families and children whose lives had been shattered, but he also declared that America would remain "open for business." We here at In the News heard that loud and clear. And so we kept picking up the phone. And we kept talking with our fellow Americans about the news of their lives.
Let's face it: most people want to remember good news, not horrible. But talking to people in those post-9/11 days and weeks gave us hope, brought us joy, and drove us to carry on.
To help our In The News team have a positive mindset to work each day, Tom had t-shirts printed for our staff our motto: "Let's Roll." He told us to get on the phone and do our best to uplift the people we spoke to, to encourage them to continue working hard, to celebrate their successes. And doing so helped us to find success as well.
We must take time to remember September 11, 2001, each year but especially this one our nation's sense of security and its place in the world was changed forever. But the events of that day also showed us what we were capable of: the ways that we could love and support one another, to come together as a nation, to carry on.
And so as we pause to reflect on the losses that we all suffered in that decade-old tragedy, and on all of the ways our world has been changed as a result, we must also keep in mind the strength that shone through: the strength of the survivors and their rescuers, the strength of the families who suffered so much loss, the strength of those who worked to repair and rebuild, and the strength of the nation as a whole, which, even while in shock, even while angry, even while mourning, was able to lift its head and move forward. As we still continue to do; as we will always do. Let's roll.