Reflections on 9/11: Fifteen Years Later

Reflections on 9/11: 15 Years Later. Remember the lessons and build a stronger, united team.


Today is the 15th Anniversary of 9/11. It’s a pivotal moment in our nation’s history; one that continues to have a significant impact on our lives. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on that day when they heard the planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York City.

As I write this, I vividly feel like I’m back in that day experiencing the emotions again. I know I’m not alone; many of you have first-hand knowledge/experience of the horrors of that day.

I was working for a medical staffing company in Northern Virginia. We had offices in 10 states, including one New York City, and staff in hospitals all over the East Coast as well as in our own offices. When a co-worker first told me he heard on the radio that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center, I was sure it was some hoax that the popular morning show was playing.

As I realized this was not a hoax, the horror set in. When the second plane hit, the shock and horror deepened. Our emotions heightened. By this time, more people had arrived in the office, and we all gathered in the owner’s office watching the national news programs with increasing horror as events continued to unfold.

Our shock increased when the plane hit the Pentagon, a mere six miles away. The horror was very close to home now. I knew people working in the Pentagon, close friends and neighbors, and it was possible that our staff was commuting to work on the roads near the Pentagon.

We frantically tried to reach our colleagues in New York City. The landlines were out and cell service was overloaded. Calls were not going through. We waited anxiously for our colleagues to call us to let us know they were ok. We finally verified all were safe and accounted for. Our company was more fortunate than many others that day.

The normal workday transformed into a blur of comforting employees, calming fears, discussing whether it would be better to stay in place or leave to be with our loved ones. We had no experience with a situation like this. We were shocked, confused, outraged, and overcome by a sadness that we had no idea could exist in our lives. On some level, we knew our world had changed and we had no idea how to deal with it.

The stories of heroism that day are well-documented. But there are many smaller acts of heroism that occurred in every business in the country. The events of that day brought people together like nothing else. It united us; it made us stronger.

While the tragedy of 9/11 should never be minimized, it should teach us lessons on how to unite and bring people together to form a stronger team. We should never forget that our businesses are built on the people who work there.

We need to build relationships with our people and unite them for a common cause. In the days after 9/11, while we were all processing this horrific event, people stepped up and helped colleagues who had suffered losses of family, friends, and neighbors. There were plenty of days when tears ran continually, and hugs and calming words were the norm. We were open and authentic, sharing our emotions, fears, and struggles. Offers of help were everywhere. We helped each other through this horrific event.

As we remember and say prayers for those who lost their lives that day and give thanks for the emergency personnel who were and continue to be on the front lines, let’s also remember that our world can change in an instant. Every moment is precious, and taking the time to say thank you, to help someone who is clearly struggling, to say a kind word or give encouragement, and to act in a way that unites rather than divides will change our businesses and our world in a positive way.

These simple things get overlooked in the busyness of our lives. We are focused on our to do lists and wish we had more hours in the day, fewer problems to solve, and less stress. I challenge you to take the time to do small things that unite your team and notice the impact that has on your time, problems, and stress. I truly believe that our lives become easier when we focus less on ourselves and more on the people who support us.

Please take a moment today to say thank you, to help someone, to offer encouragement, or to simply give thanks for the people in your lives.

You can start by sharing your thoughts in the comments below on how you unite your teams to build a stronger business. We’re all in this together and your insights may be just what someone needs to move forward.