I can remember standing in the office with several of the gentlemen with whom I work on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Like most Americans, we were caught up in the events unfolding before us on television. Surreal. Unfathomable. Ugly. Unforgettable. And I made the comment, “This changes everything.”
Now, a year later, many of us will relive that moment and the events that have occurred in our world since. Having had the advantage of some time to think things over — unlike that shocking day as unbelievable atrocities were being committed on our soil — I think that “things” haven’t really changed that much. However, those of us who currently share in the stewardship of this country have indeed changed.
Our lives, including our business lives, were affected by these events just as they are by any shift in the winds of the physical, economic or political worlds. And in spite of the tragic loss, the subsequent “war on terror” and the economic fallout, we keep going and we learn and grow by this experience. What have we learned and how have we grown?
We have had to endure uncertainty in our lives and in our business in ways some of us have only read about in books or seen in movies. We have countered this, for the most part, with a new determination to pull together to succeed as a nation and as individuals engaged in our various endeavors.
I have worked with and beside roofing contractors over the year gone by and witnessed the deterioration of their bottom line, but I have not seen a deterioration of their spirit or determination to prevail against the negative forces put in motion by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Helen Keller said it well: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” Many of the people I know in this business have gained character over the last year. No one would choose the price that was paid, but through it all many have come out stronger. For some of us, simply remembering to stop and smell the roses (for a change) has been a growth experience. And we have learned again that we must remember. God help us if we ever forget.