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The Day That a New Century Began.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, is a day that will remain etched in our memory for years to come. With the tragedy of lives lost and the symbols of American strength and financial power ripped apart, it is clear that our lives will be forever changed. The indelible images will be forever stored in our minds, and the sorrow of the losses will be carried in our hearts. Like the rest of the country, I am struggling to understand what happened, why it happened and how it happened.

Like you, I watched this tragedy unfold through live news coverage, watching in disbelief as the second plane hit the South Tower, I've struggled to try to understand and comprehend, searching for answers to questions that I know will take a long time to understand. The two tallest towers, the twin towers, that marked the New York skyline are now gone. The number of floors the towers held, the number of people the towers housed, made the impact of this terrible tragedy so far-reaching. We all witnessed the towers fall, in multiple reruns, and, with each rerun, a little piece of all of us fell a hundred stories downward.

In many ways, it's as if America has suffered a broken heart. All that we held so dear is injured; freedom and hope--the American way of thinking and living...changed forever. More than 5,000 lives, someone's loved one, someone's father, husband, wife, friend or coworker, were lost in this senseless act of terrorism. Gone is the feeling that destruction happens somewhere else. Gone is the sense of security that surrounded us. Our hearts ache for those lives lost and for the unnamed heroes: the passengers on the planes, the workers who helped coworkers to safety, and the firefighters, police, doctors and nurses.

Our forgiving and open, accepting way of life has been changed; our attitude towards God and country made stronger. Without thought, we trusted and believed in freedom, and while that trust and belief has only been strengthened instead of stripped away by terrorism, we now understand that freedom must not, and cannot, ever be taken for granted. We are filled with sorrow and a deep resolve to support those who have lost loved ones, coworkers and friends and to rebuild what has been shattered and torn down.

One day before this tragedy, in a New England town, leaders voted to restrict how often and how long American flags could fly along downtown streets. Flags now bravely and proudly hang everywhere, and tug at one's heart and inspire a spirit of both patriotism and unity as never before. Old Glory lends focus and something to hang onto amidst the chaos of the devastation. Just a few weeks ago, the requirement that school students recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning in classrooms was being hotly debated; Americans everywhere are now proudly hanging flags to reaffirm their allegiance to, and faith in, this great nation. The Pledge of Allegiance has taken on a new, deeper meaning and is now recited with greater meaning and resolve. As a nation, we will pull together to rebuild. With heavy hearts, we watch the rescue and recovery efforts in New York and Washington, DC, and we ache for those lost and will be ever thankful to those who continue to tirelessly and unselfishly sift through the debris in search of clues and loved ones. We are a nation of leaders, and we will lead the world through this time of darkness and grief.

For the first time since World War II, this nation has been reunited by this tragedy as never before. The magnitude and depth of damage will serve as a new foundation of strength and pride for our nation. We will band together and rebuild. Watching the bucket brigade, those working side-by-side, moving buckets full of the rubble that was someone's office, I can see a new unity and commitment. We gaze with a new-found emotion when we see our flag flying and hear the anthems saluting freedom. It's the dawning of a new time and spirit and the rebirth of a deeper pride in God and our country.

Our companies will extend the business credit needed for the construction to repair and rebuild what has been lost. Terrorism may have ripped a hole in the very fabric of that which America is made, but watch us: we will rebuild and re-weave that hole, becoming stronger than we were before. We will rebuild the rubble left and create a new landscape even though our view of our world will always be different. We will remain proud of our beliefs and our nation.

History is full of examples of cities and nations rising from destruction. We have the character, the resolve and the will to get through this. Whatever our differences, we have been pulled together. We, have witnessed heroism at its best; we have seen teamwork and brotherhood prevail. "We the People"...we are American. We are filled with hope and optimism and believe in democracy and freedom. We stand united. I can't even begin to imagine all that will change; but I do know, that we will face those changes together. The day that a new century began: September 11, 2001.

Val Venable, CCE, is Manager Corporate Credit for GE Polymerland in Huntersville, NC and is Chairman of National Association of Credit Management.
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Author:Venable, Val
Publication:Business Credit
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
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