“I remember where I was . . . I remember who I was with.”

(An updated version of this entry is posted on “Escape from Averageness” every year nearing the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks)


“What is it that you remember most about 9/11?”  Whenever I am asked that question, my answer is invariably, “I remember what I cannot forget.”

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I was in the offices of Fidelity Homes, in Venice, Florida, just starting a process mapping engagement that would give this start-up builder a state-of-the-art set of business processes.  SAI’s involvement was part of a large pro bono effort, sponsored by Professional Builder, that included a number of top consultants then serving the homebuilding industry.

I was the Process Architect for Fidelity Homes.

Sitting across the table were David Hunihan and Todd Menke, two young builders, eager to take their experience in homebuilding and pursue a National Housing Quality award.  I still think David and Todd represent the entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking that remains the best hope for this country and for this industry.

We had barely started, when David was pulled away by a telephone call.  It was his wife, Lauren, asking if he was aware of what was going on in New York City.  As the events continued to unfold, in New York City, in Washington DC, in western Pennsylvania, we eventually found that it was impossible to focus on mapping processes, and whatever we were doing did not seem all that important, anyway.  We cancelled everything for the rest of the day, and, in our own ways, watched and tried to process what was happening.

Bill Lurz, then a senior editor at Professional Builder, joined us the following day.  We finished the project two days later, and I drove back to my family in Ponte Vedra Beach through a tropical storm.  Understandably, the hugs had more conviction than usual.

The articles were written for Professional Builder.

I still consider the events of 9/11 to be a matter of unfinished business for this country.  Time has not changed my feelings one iota.  We were attacked because of who we were, and because of who we unapologetically remain.  Evil is still the enemy of good, and evil still has a face.  In the face of that evil, we have failed to clearly state what war is;  we have dismissed the understanding of war as the utter and complete destruction of an enemy.

Whatever we think of issues like the tradeoff between national security and the constitutional rights to privacy of US citizens, the murder of US diplomats and security personnel in Benghazi, or the ramifications of a decision to intervene in the conflict in Syria, the discussion on those matters misses the point.

It misses the point, because it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem.  The core problem is not the threat of future terrorist attacks, or the presence of Weapons of Mass Terror;  the problem is the terrorists.

“Fleury.  Tell me what you whispered to Janet, in the briefing, to get her to stop crying about Fran, you know, before all this, before we even got airborne.  What’d you say to her?  You remember?”

“I told her we were gonna kill ’em all.”

(The Kingdom, Universal Pictures, 2007)