10 Years Later: How Have We Changed?

By Mary Tanner Wilson
September 11, 2011 • 1 comment(s)
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Most of us have no trouble recalling exactly where we were when we learned of the September 11th attacks. I was beginning my junior year in college and was living off campus in a townhome with friends. I can still see the images of the second plane crashing into the south tower as I walked down the stairs on my way to class. I remember arriving to my class early to do some last minute cramming, and I heard a professor ask his class to stand and sing the national anthem. As the unlikely chorus sang, it began to ring true that our lives would change forever - and a piece of our innocence had been ripped away.

Fast forward 10 years, and I still get chills when I see news coverage from that September day. I like to think our nation has gained a greater appreciation for those who serve in our military and emergency response teams, and maybe we even express our gratitude to family and friends more often...just to make sure they know how much they mean to us. But, what other changes in our daily lives can be attributed to the events on and soon after 9/11?

I came across a great compilation of perspectives written by Brett Nelson, an Executive Editor at Forbes. When business leaders across the country were asked to provide 'tangible consequences 9/11 had on the world of business', they came up with some very clear cut positives and negatives. You'll probably identify with many of these, but you might be surprised by a few items on the list. (For a complete list, check out the full article 16 Ways 9/11 Changed the Way We Do Business.)

Expansion of Employee Assistance Programs

Have you noticed an increased focus on Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) at your office? Basic EAPs have always offered free, confidential services for employees and their families such as counseling for alcohol or substance abuse, workplace violence and family problems. Post 9/11, many EAPs began to expand by including critical incidence response with capabilities to serve hundreds at a time after a major event.

 Priority Shift

Not to say that we've got it all together now, but 9/11 seems to have caused us to take a closer look at our our goals and priorities. Much of our nation's workforce decided they didn't want to deal with the long commutes and the downtown highrise rat race. Many would be entrepreneurs decided to take the simpler, slower pace by opening up shop in small town USA.

Preparation is Key

I have a feeling we've all noticed that employees hold their companies to a higher standard of preparedness. Business continuity became an extreme focus in companies around the word - large and small alike. We know where the 'safe zones' are, and we receive text messages in case of bad weather. We've also laid the ground work to enable business to go on without actually being at the office.

So on this 10th anniversary, let's remember the lives lost, give thanks for our loved ones and remember it's the simple things that can sometimes make us happier in life.

Where were you? And what did you learn from the events on September 11, 2001?


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Molly's picture

I was in my 8 a.m. Philosophy of Love class on campus. Our professor asked us, "What big thing is going on in the news right now?" And one of my fellow students said, "Oh, are you talking about the bombing at the World Trade Center?" Our professor told him to quit joking around.

It's an interesting thing, experiencing a tragedy as a college student. The campus is the world that you know. So you watch the events there, you grieve there, you console each other there and you learn a lot more about the event from the human perspective. You dissect it in every class, you talk about it everywhere you go. The learnings are astronomical because you're sheltered from the rest of the world and coping with the event together.

Three things I took from 9/11:
- Never miss an opportunity to tell someone what they mean to you.
- You're technically not "safe" anywhere, so you should be aware everywhere.
- Don't assume the bad in people. It's true that 9/11 had a handful of bad people, but there were even more good people that day. There were hundreds of heroes, and they were all normal, everyday people. It's amazing what roles people will take on when the situation calls for it.