Some days are more memorable than others. My grandmother could recall exactly where she was and what she was doing the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. My mother could do the same for the day Kennedy was assassinated.
For me, and many others in my generation, our “day” is September 11, 2001.
That day seventeen years ago, I was working as a disc jockey on a radio station in western Pennsylvania. It was a Tuesday, and our station was doing a remote broadcast that morning. We had run a contest the previous week in which we agreed to do our show live from the hometown of the winning team of a much-hyped high school football game in our coverage area.
Doing this kind of live, on-location broadcast wasn’t something we normally did. I had so much fun that morning, though, interacting with listeners and giving away prizes. Unfortunately, that fun turned out to be rather short-lived.
We were in the station’s van driving home from the remote broadcast when I first heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
By the time we got back to the station, the second plane had already struck the South Tower and another plane had crashed into the Pentagon.
I served as the station’s news director and was therefore responsible for providing updates on those events. I had just entered the studio and was getting ready to go on the air when I saw the first tower collapse on a television outside the studio’s window. I’m not sure I fully grasped the gravity of what was happening at that moment, but I knew it was bad.
About ten minutes later, a State Police report came through that a commercial plane had crashed only a few miles away from our station. (We eventually learned that plane was United Flight 93 and that it had flown almost directly over our building when it turned upside down mere seconds prior to crashing in the field.)
Like most people, we weren’t yet aware of the hijackings, the terrorist plots, or even the connection between Flight 93 and the World Trade Center and Pentagon crashes. In fact, I remember being in the studio on the telephone with a reporter from our local NBC affiliate and commenting to him, “Just think on any other day our crash story would have been national news.”
We didn’t understand how big of a story “our” crash would become.
With all planes grounded and United States airspace shut down, the ability of members of the national media to travel to the Pennsylvania crash site was greatly hindered. But people were desperate for information, so as one of the closest media outlets to the site, we started fielding calls from almost every news outlet in the world, seeking details about the “Shanksville” crash.
Our lives change as we age and so do our perspectives. Maybe that is why, when I now look back on that day, I think not only of the tragedy but also about the many good teammates who emerged.
If we see beyond the horrific events of September 11, 2001, we discover countless examples of good teammate moves.
They came from the first responders who rushed into the burning towers. They came from the people who pulled their coworkers to safety. They came from the brave passengers who challenged the hijackers.
Examples of selfless acts of courage and sacrifice on that day are abundant.
To some degree, September 12, 2001 was an even more memorable day for me. People in my community were a little kinder that day. They were a little more patient and a lot more patriotic.
The unfortunate events of the previous day had bonded us, and we behaved like teammates on a tightknit team. Our priorities were aligned. We cared more. We were extra willing to help one another. And we considered how our actions affected the other members of our team.
September 12, 2001 is the closest I have come to experiencing what it feels like to be surrounded by good teammates—individuals who care, share, and listen and genuinely see their community as their team.
I often wonder…Why can’t it be like that every day?
My efforts to spread the “Be a Good Teammate” message are, in many ways, my crack at world peace.
So today, think about September 12th and maybe consider engaging in the sort of kindness, loyalty, and generosity that was prevalent that day. Let today be your reminder that your willingness to be a good teammate can make a positive difference. Let your shift in mindset be your contribution to world peace.
The world cannot have too many good teammates.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.