As we celebrate the elimination of the Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, we all remember where we were on 9-11-01. Hopefully, the families of the victims get an element of closure and continued healing from their very painful losses on that tragic day.
I invite you to read what I wrote to our employees, friends and colleagues just after September 11, 2001 and invite you to point your browsers at www.projectrebirth.org, a group Telos and I have been intensely involved with from the early days after Bin Laden's horrific terrorist acts.
September 14, 2001
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
The terrible events that occurred at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania are forever etched in our minds and the unfillable hole in the New York skyline is testament to our collective and seemingly inconsolable grief. We are by nature a nation of builders. The perversity and evil that drove this awesome cruelty is unfathomable to a country that, among other things, developed the notion of a United Nations after World War I and, in the aftermath of World War II, helped rebuild a shattered Europe.
Because we all grew up in places where people of every race, color, and creed together pursued the inherently American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we simply cannot comprehend the motives behind this faceless, nameless, and patently evil terrorism.
I wish I could somehow parcel this tragedy out and compartmentalize it into bite-sized pieces and assure you that we will push forward and make our companies stronger, make the economy stronger, and thus make our nation stronger. Yet it seems to me that this would almost trivialize the anguish of the families of the missing, the courage of the rescuers, and the tenacity of the volunteers.
I am confident, however, that if not understanding, at least acceptance of this immense tragedy will follow. I offer this on little more than faith. The sense of loss makes it difficult to see, yet I am as certain of this as I am of the strength and resiliency of our nation. Our lives were jolted on September 11. But our nation remains strong. This tragedy will shape us. It will influence us. But we cannot allow it to define us and to make us a scared and prejudiced people, or to allow the erosion of the basic rights and freedoms that define what it means to be American. I am confident that we will become a stronger, safer, and even more just democracy. To do otherwise would cede victory to the spiritually impoverished and morally bankrupt terrorists that perpetrated these unspeakable acts.
A recurring image is that of the potter's kiln, breaking down the clay through intense heat, and remaking it into something stronger and far more beautiful. As the shock we feel makes a transition to grief and inevitably to anger, I will hold myself together, and you will, too. And from this crucible, we, our businesses, and the nation will become stronger.
What has this tragedy wrought? Besides sadness, I have never felt closer to my wife and child, brothers, and parents. Never more concerned about the welfare of my neighbors, my employees, and friends. Never more determined to take personal responsibility to help ensure that the world I leave for my 2-year-old son is more promising, more hopeful, and more peaceful.
We will never forget the sorrow and remorse of those that lost loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers will always be with them. Nor will we forget the courage of the firefighters and police officers who risked and lost their lives trying to rescue people. These selfless actions demonstrate the very best of what it means to be American.
Today, we find ourselves in one of those rare circumstances where every American and indeed, much of the world, shares the same goal. Yet as we thirst for justice, we must be mindful to avoid blind revenge. The actions of a few do not indict an entire people or religion. We were hurt badly and we should respond with furious, yet not indiscriminate, justice.
Our Human Resources Department is defining and promoting programs in which we can play an active role in helping the families of the victims, the people of the affected communities, and our employees involved in relief and other efforts. We welcome your ideas about how we can help.