Remember. With the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on this country looming, we all will be deluged with words and images of the horror, pain, strength and courage of that terrible day. It will reopen many fresh wounds and be a day of somber reflection for Americans and our friends worldwide. This is a natural part of the grieving and healing process.
Respect. It is an appropriate time to recall and appreciate the lives of those lost, damaged and forever altered, and to praise the humanity of those individuals — from firefighters to nurses to business leaders to nameless strangers in the street — who in countless ways, large and small, responded to the crisis with tireless efforts and boundless compassion.
Reassess. Such catastrophic events have a way of making us all stop to evaluate what's truly important to us, how we invest our valuable time, and how we treat others. This can be one of the silver linings of tragedy, to lend vital perspective to our lives, and to help us reorder priorities and reconnect with those who matter most to us, before it's too late.
Rebound. In the United States and well beyond, awful happenings ultimately help to reaffirm the resiliency of the human spirit. This is one of those times. And it is important to focus on the positive and move decisively forward.
The plastics industry, like other industries, is doing its part. In the weeks immediately after Sept. 11, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. heeded the call of President Bush and did the right thing by forging ahead with its Plastics USA trade show in Chicago. Dusseldorf Trade Shows also held its huge K 2001 plastics fair in Germany in late October, and Plastics News proceeded in mid-November with its Plastics Encounter event in Atlanta. Attendance suffered some at those and other events, but the industry set the tone that it was not to be deterred. “Life, and business,” it declared loudly, “goes on.”
PN senior reporter Bill Bregar reminded our readers recently of the poignant personal aftermath of that day's events on the lives of one plastics industry family in Amesbury, Mass. His July 29 profile revealed how Debbie Hayes, 32-year-old widow of Netstal Machinery Inc. sales manager Bob Hayes, and her two small children are coping with their loss. The well-known and well-liked Hayes, who was on the first plane that hit the World Trade Center, offered a lesson to us all in family values.
Meantime, life — albeit changed in many ways — strides forward. The attacks further dampened a softening economy, which has made running a business and turning a profit that much tougher. And, in true Darwinian fashion, plastics industry mergers and acquisitions proceed apace, while other firms have renewed reason to slim down, shape up and work smart.
No one ever said it would be easy. And it sure isn't. Still, plastics continue to find innovative uses that enhance product design, environmental friendliness and manufacturability. This industry without doubt will continue to be an engine of American economic growth, even if that engine isn't firing on all cylinders at the moment.
So, take the time this week to remember, pay your respects and reassess your own priorities. Then, stand up straight and with a purposeful stride, return to your tasks at hand with a new spirit and vitality, and be a positive part of America's rebound.