Posted by Diane Capuano
Ten years ago this month—on Sept. 11, 2001—our nation endured a terrible tragedy when terrorists hijacked four airplanes and crashed two of them into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon. The fourth was thwarted from reaching its intended target by the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on that tragic day.
The ramifications from the attack continue into the present, with U.S. troops still fighting a war in Afghanistan and Americans having become used to heightened security at airports and other public facilities as a way of life.
New York City experienced the most direct impact from the tragic events of 9/11. The Twin Towers fell there. More than 2,500 of the victims died there. The New York firefighters and rescue workers who rushed into the World Trade Center came to symbolize the heroism of that day.
In the paint and decorating industry, the events of Sept. 11 remain forever etched in the memories of those who were in New York that day. In its November 2001 issue, Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine published a special report focusing on the impact that the events of that September morning had on retailers and suppliers of paint and decorating products. Quoting from the article:
“Many in the paint and decorating industry—particularly those in New York and neighboring communities—have been forever changed by the events that unfolded that day. In the early morning hours of that bright, clear Tuesday, paint stores in Manhattan and elsewhere had opened for business as usual. Their delivery trucks were making their rounds. In nearby New Jersey, paint manufacturing plants were engaged in their normal operations. Then, abruptly, without warning, everything stopped. One plane, then another had horrifyingly crashed into the Twin Towers.”
From there, the article cited the experiences of individuals in our industry:
• An industry association executive who attended memorial service after memorial service in the aftermath of the tragedies and attested to the commitment to volunteerism and donations to help the families of those who lost loved ones. “Overall, New Yorkers are a tough, tough breed. They’re as generous as anyone could ask.”
• A company president of a major industry tool company, whose niece was changing trains at the World Trade Center station just as the tragedy struck and was led from harm’s way by a helpful stranger. “Strangers were there to help her. In a time of crisis, people reached out. In the face of such horrific circumstances, it’s the little anecdotes like this that tell us something about the human condition.”
• A wallcovering supplier, whose Manhattan offices were located 2 miles from the World Trade Center area, and subsequently announced a program to match any employee donations to charity relief funds to assist victims and their families. “The tragedy has caused all of us, not just New Yorkers, to re-evaluate what is important in our lives and realize all the good that there is in our country, despite these recent events.”
• The owner of a midtown Manhattan store, who was in Long Island at the time of the tragedy and could not get back into the city. “The next day, I couldn’t go into the city either, so I spent two days watching TV. I hadn’t watched TV that intently since John F. Kennedy was killed.”
• The nephew of the aforementioned store owner, who was in the store at the time of the attack and witnessed a silent pilgrimage of people walking uptown away from the World Trade Center site. “No one was talking. No trains were working, no buses. And everyone was concerned because they didn’t know if there were going to be any more attacks.”
• Reports of many industry companies and retailers that offered donations of money, products (respirators, dust masks, work gloves, empty 5-gallon buckets, etc.) as well as blood in the aftermath of the tragedy. As one retailer said, “We did whatever we could to help. We weren’t concerned with getting any PR value out of it. When you’re here, in the middle of it, and it’s happening to your community, you’re not doing it for PR purposes. It comes from a legitimate feeling of wanting to help.”
Read the original article in its entirety here.