Dallas Business Leaders 9/11 Memoirs – Part Two

Firemen raise the American flag at Ground Zero

In honor of the 10th anniversary of September 11th, Mom Corps Dallas remembers those who died during the terrorist attacks. We are thinking of their loved ones and friends as well as those injured and the heros who came to the rescue of many on this day. We asked Dallas business leaders what September 11th means to them. We were awed and honored for their responses. This is second post in a three-part series.   

“September 11, 2001 was a normal day for me as career mom. I was in Chicago for a meeting and I enthusiastically packed my bags that morning at the thought of coming home to see my two young sons after a night away. As I walked out the door of my hotel, I heard The Today Show describing how a plane had hit one of the towers. I had the impression at first, like everyone else, that it was pilot error of a small plane and a tragic accident. I went to the office and the news began to trickle in that this was something quite different. I got an instant message from a friend who told me that the Pentagon had been hit. We all wondered what was next.

I was working in downtown Chicago about a block from the Sears Tower which was believed to be a potential target. As the news spread, our building was evacuated and we went back to our hotel we had checked out of that morning. I have never wanted to be home with my family more than that day. But, it was not to happen quickly. The rental cars were sold out, the airports were closed and the trains were full. Finally, after waiting for three days we drove to Kansas City and my husband came to pick me up and drive back to Dallas.

When we rounded the corner onto our block that Friday afternoon, I saw my two sons and the neighborhood children out playing that sunny afternoon. I felt a rush of joy and relief I will always remember. I also knew that this reunion was not possible for many in New York. I had a feeling that day that I can recall very clearly when I really stop and remember. It changed the course of my life because I realized something I said I knew – but not really. Life is short and to be treasured, and family and friends are what matter most. It also gave me peace and clarity on the changes I wanted in my career that led me to what I am doing today.

For me, that day started a bend in my path that reshaped who and where I am today.”

Patti Johnson is the CEO and founder of PeopleResults. The company website is www.people-results.com. Follow them on twitter www.twitter.com/people_results or “like” them on facebook www.facebook.com/PeopleResults.

“Like most Americans, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard this surreal, uncertain news. It could not have been more mundane; driving to the office after dropping my daughter at school. A beautiful day, unclouded by what was to come. The unforgettable images and sounds will always be with me, though I was half a continent away. For some reason I remember, almost as vividly, where I was in Dallas when the first commercial planes were in the air again. It was a reassuring thing to see that plane and the contrail in the blue Texas sky. Normal couldn’t be too far away, right?

Ten years later, I wish I were able to say I feel better about where we are as a country. After an all too brief time of feeling the “indivisible” of the Pledge of Allegiance, I wonder if that wasn’t really the moment when division crept in and found a home in the USA. Certainly innocence was irrevocably gone. But had we settled at pragmatism, the world can be a dangerous place after all, then perhaps we would have learned the right lessons. Instead, I think we focused on the fear…. fear of the other, the different, the unknown. I believe one of our country’s most unique traits has been our openness to the outside world. Our willingness to do that from strength and confidence rather than suspicion. Though we have had our rough patches, adversity brought us together. This time, however, we’ve not yet found a way to do that.

Until we do, my greatest hope is that in never forgetting the horror of the bombings and senseless deaths of thousands of innocent people, we defeat the long term plan of the despicable Osama bin Laden to turn us against one another. For me, rather than embracing the fear, I hope the solidarity following September 11 is the standard to which we hold ourselves.”

Buddy Teaster is president of RTM Networks, director of Catapult Partners and former chief network officer at Young Presidents’ Organization. His company websites are www.rtmnetworks.com and www.catapultpartners.com. Follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rtmnetworks.com.