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9/11: National Day of Service and Remembrance

Posted by Brian Spence on Sep 11, 2013 2:29:00 PM

Mental Health, 9/11It was 12 years ago. It is America’s “Never Forget” moment. This morning, MSNBC ran original news coverage of that day. Images of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer talking about a commuter plan that might have struck Tower One. They were on the phone with a woman nearby when the second tower was hit.

Everyone was still clueless as to the magnitude of what we were witnessing on live television. The Twin Towers falling, the Pentagon being hit and if not for the courageous actions of the passengers aboard United Flight 93, the White House could have been next.

The images are now seared into our consciousness. I had to turn off the TV. I couldn’t breath. It’s been 12 years and according to a USA Today poll, 61% of Americans feel that the 9/11 attacks to be the most memorable news event in their lifetime.

As a nation, we have moved on. We’re different, the world is different. Terrorism was not invented on September 11th but for Americans, it was a game changer and the scars remain. Tony Blair, the former PM of Britain said “The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.”

Some of that happened, there was a lot of division in this country in the weeks and months following the attacks. But there was a lot of unity. We came together as a nation to heal and that healing continues over a decade later.

Workplace Considerations

As the enormity of the losses became clear, thousands of organizations brought in counseling teams to help employees talk about their experiences, their losses, their anger and their grief. Companies learned a lot about crisis counseling and many HR Managers now make counseling contingency plans for if another next event occurs.

Today, organizations should still be prepared for reactions and memories and how they might impact the workplace. Emotional outbursts, isolating behavior, nervousness can play out as people remember their individual experiences with that day and the events that followed.

Terrorism has become part of our national fabric. Heightened security at airports and train stations, getting into sporting arenas, car checks. It now seems so ordinary. The Boston Marathon bombing happened a few months ago – at some level we understand that America makes a great target for terrorists. But today is different and the workplace will not be exempt from people still grappling with their emotions.

National Day of Service and Remembrance

David Paine, president and co-founder of the 9/11 Day Observance remarked "Even with the passage of time, the desire to recognize each anniversary remains strong."...many Americans plan to do something to commemorate the day, even if it is something informal. "The reason you see this outpouring of support with Sept. 11 is that the entire country feels like they were victims," Paine says. "They are trying to find a way to pay respects and find a way to regain control over what they felt."

Today I will personally pause to reflect upon the lives and spirits of those lost in this terrible disaster, most particularly the seven friends and coworkers lost from the 102nd Floor of One World Trade Center.  Some will do informal acts such as volunteering or stopping at their place of worship to pray, and for many, it may just mean taking a day off to spend with family and friends to celebrate that life went on. There will be many formal events around the country, particularly in Washington, DC, New York and Shanksville, PA. However you choose to remember, it is most important that you not forget.

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