Remember, Reflect and Rejoice

11 09 2014

Atlanta-Journal-Constitution-9-11-front-page-jpgI was up very early this morning. I typically don’t set an alarm, being fortunate to have a pretty accurate internal clock on regular work days. But for some reason I woke up at 5:00, tossed for a while then started scrolling through my phone at 6:00.

The anniversary of September 11th never sneaks up on me. It’s always in my mind, even without the torrent of news stories and social media posts. Maybe that’s why I woke up so early today.

Thirteen years ago, I wasn’t relying on that internal clock. I was probably up and out the door by 6:00 because I was flying to Atlanta that morning on business. It was a beautiful day… I remember that well. Not a cloud in the sky. Exactly like today…

Everything about that early morning was uneventful except that I ran into a co-worker at the airport who was flying to Los Angeles. My flight left as scheduled, and I’m sure I dozed off during the two hour ride. I exited the D Gate at Hartsfield International Airport at precisely 8:45 – I remember looking at the clock. I had no idea that the first plane hit the World Trade Center North Tower one minute later. By the time I made my way throughout the airport to meet my friend Tom, the second plane had hit. And our phones were ringing.

What followed was the most surreal day of my life. We had a long drive to Montgomery, AL, with a couple of appointments along the way. After a few phone calls home, we stopped to watch the news at a Holiday Inn. But the lobby television was in use for a presentation, so the hotel manager ushered us into a nearby guest room where we sat on an unmade bed and watched the news with several other people. It was eerie… A bunch of travelers, far from home, trying to make sense of the horrific images on the screen.

The rest of the day was a collection of anecdotes… too numerous to list but a few. Driving by an U.S Army base in complete lockdown, the constant radio news with the latest developments and the realization that all of the planes involved were heading to the west coast and full of fuel – immediately thinking about my co-workers heading to LA. Were they okay? Our company had eleven people travelling that morning, and all were safe.

handI woke up in Montgomery the next morning. I slept some, but CNN was on my television all night. A local merchant was standing on the street outside his business that morning, handing out small plastic American Flags. I still have it. Somewhere.

Oddly, I had the best meeting of my business career that morning, winning a huge account. I spent the next two days back in Atlanta, and left on my scheduled flight early on Friday morning. The security that day was incredible, which made everyone feel more nervous than safe. When I got back to Philly I stopped in the office for a few minutes, then went home to my family. I was assured by my youngest son that we were all okay… “Don’t worry, Dad. It was New York, not Phillydelphia.”

But we did worry… A lot. So many things have changed since that day. So many things will never be the same.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday, who was feeling uneasy about the anniversary and the general state of the world today. As we chatted, I came to some realizations.

Sadly… We are not completely safe. Everything changed thirteen years ago. But while we should never forget the events of 9/11, it is a part of our past that we should consider over. It remains in our heads and that is more of a danger than anything offered by current terrorist groups. A prime example is the worry about safety on anniversary today. The 9/11 terrorists still winning…

flags raindropsMy friend said that this is the first anniversary that she has felt such uncertainty. Like any good parent, she was worried about her kids. The 9/11 terrorist winning again. I told her to ask yourself why… because of the constant news and information about it? (Here is when directed her to my previous blog about news sources.)

We are inundated with all of the bad news, and doomsday scenarios about what might happen. We never hear about the positives, about all of the things that happen every minute to assure our safety. About the thousands of people working here and abroad to make our country safe. We end up scaring ourselves. We think about all of the possibilities we are presented with, versus the real probability – that my friend and her children, and all of us… are protected in the best possible way. Today and every day.

I rejoice that I am where I am in this world. In my home, in my city, in my country. I’m thankful every day.

Always remember, but please continue to live.

When I was stuck in my hotel room in Atlanta that week, I repeatedly saved images on my computer. Periodically, I look in that folder. The three images in this post are from what I collected that week.


Who Do You Trust?

8 09 2014

2009-03-19-Trust-meI have been asking this question a lot over the last several months. Where do you get your news, and how do you know it’s real? Information is flowing fast and furious, like no time in our history. Surely it can’t all be accurate just because it’s in print, on television or on the internet.

I am flooded with information all day. My phone is constantly pinging with Facebook and Twitters posts directing me to articles both criticizing or praising the President about his handling of ISIS, and to sites with judgments or platitudes to the Ferguson Police Department who are either inept or under siege. I am very fortunate that I have a list of social media connections who have varied opinions on the hot topics of the day, and they can all find website articles that support their opinions on those topics. But at the end of the day, someone is right and someone else is wrong. Who is it?

I recall a conversation I had with a friend, a few months before the 2012 Presidential election. Although I had never indicated which candidate I was supporting, I was told to go to a certain few sites Keep-calm-and-trust-me---Urban-900-TO-Skins-iph501to get all of the information I needed. I asked why those sites, and the answer was “Because they check their facts.” What a relief!! So I asked… “How do you know that they check facts?’ The reply came quickly… “Because I read about them on another site.” Now, I’m not saying anything bad here about my friend, because he falls victim to the same trap that we all do.

In 2014, is it a pipe dream to get the facts without agenda? Without bias? That’s a key word, isn’t it. The first time I learned this concept was about thirty years ago during a discussion about abortion. The speaker was making the point that those who favor laws allowing abortion are referred to as “Pro Choice” on television and in the newspapers. But those who are against abortion are called “Anti Abortion Activists”, when their organizations constantly use the term “Pro Life”. It was a not so subtle distinction, and one of the best examples of media bias… and it still exists today.

Another friend recently posted some statistics about the accuracy of various news outlets, posting a scorecard that analyzes statements made on air by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox personalities and their pundit guests. The results were interesting and alarming, and I was immersing myself in the data when the whole thing went to hell. Someone questioned the source of the statistics, PunditFact. My investigation into this organization proved them to be on the up and up, and I got all of my information about them on the internet… wait a minute… damn!!!

Snopes_logoIt gets better… let’s make it simpler. Recently I’d seen rumors flying around about the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) intentionally suppressing proof of vaccine-related cases of autism in African-American boys from reaching the public. I went to my trusted soothsayers for urban legends – Snopes. com. I was satisfied when I read that the CDC rumor was false. Whew! Faith in my fellow man restored! Until… I go back to the Google page and see an article titled “Snopes Got Snoped!“, which accused my go-to, trusted website of being managed by a middle-aged married couple with no background in research, who uses Google as the primary tool for their myth busting. What the hell!!!!! Of course I trust the source of this info – – who are funded by a group called the Democracy Fund. Wasn’t that George Costanza’s charity?

I have more questions than answers. And I need an answer. WHO DO YOU TRUST? Where can you get information that is accurate and free from agenda? Please tell me where, and tell me why you have given them your trust.

All may not be lost… I was talking with my neighbor about my conundrum. She seems to think her new boyfriend has all of the answers I seek. And he’s a French model!!