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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

Remembrances on 9-11

Tough days are better shared with others, there’s a human component to “WORK” we all should hold dear.

Re-printed with permission from two colleagues.

My lovely wife (before we were married) 1999 WTC

From: Mark Olivito Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 6:53 AM To: Marketing Subject: Sharing some thoughts on this day.

What a fun discussion on “bands that defined an era” yesterday! It’s fun to hear people’s opinions and music always brings back memories. Non work related discussions always serve a purpose, even if to keep things light on stressful days or learn something about a team member or 2. So for that, THANKS!

On the treadmill this morning I couldn’t help to go back to 9/11, and how it wouldn’t be right to acknowledge this day and its significance in the world’s history (and present, and future).

Yes, not a light topic. But there’s never been a bigger defining moment in this country’s history than that day, at least that I have lived through. Historic days usually create an opportunity to reflect and share “where were you the day….”

I’m certainly not asking for that but am ALWAYS interested in learning about the people I work with and spend a huge amount of hours with. I am always happy to share mine for those that care to hear….

I was in Cincinnati, going through a relatively stressful senior management business review meeting. We got off on a topic that created a “lively discussion” I was the center of, the trivial nature of it compared to what was unfolding in my wife’s hometown does not even deserve ink. But let’s just say that day was the start of a very clear dividing line for what I would accept, what I wouldn’t, and what mattered most in life. In other words, it was a day I grew up, as many people did I suspect.

I’m an eternal optimist (and I’m sure some challenge this when we grind through our days and try and manage the business)…..and believe every moment in life has a lesson, although it’s sometimes hard to see when you are on top of it. For me, here are a couple of optimistic memories….

  • Either September 13th or 14th (days after 911), I was the best man of a friend’s wedding. Unfortunately, it was in Cape Cod Ma, only about a 15 hour drive. Kim and I dreaded that trip. It happened to be inspirational. Every bridge we drove under had 5 people or more hanging USA flags, banners, etc. Every one brought tears to our eyes. The unity was unreal. I remember crossing the line into the metro area and tuning into Mike & the Mad Dog (famous radio show) and there was no sports being bantered. They were talking about the events and it was clear the shock, days after the event turned too “what’s next.” I remember the Mad Dog saying something like “somebody is going to get it, and they will get the full wrath of the world, and quickly.” I think they were right, but I KNOW that UNITY, was undeniable. There were no republicans or dems for the longest stretch I can remember. Unity and focusing on common ground is amazing for spirits

  • The baseball season was on hold for quite a while, and the world series went into November. It was one of the greatest world series ever, going to the last pitch of game 7, with the Yankees losing to Arizona on a broken bat bloop single in AZ. I was at game 1 in NYC, and President Bush threw out the first pitch. There had to be 100 snipers lining the upper deck, only everyone saw them. Jeter gave the prez the best advice as he was nervous and warming up underground: “Don’t bounce it, they will boo you.” W threw a perfect strike. 55k people chanted USA and the 3 fighter Jets buzzed the stadium, popping ear drums of everyone in attendance.

  • Days after the Yanks lost we had a sales meeting, low and behold in AZ. I was on the agenda for an hour, the usual agenda of performance, priorities, etc. Right before I opened my mouth somebody yelled something about the Yankees. It shut my mind down on anything business related as I went to the Fighter Jets, game 1, and the 15 hour trip cape cod. I could have had a teleprompter, it would not have mattered. I scrapped the business agenda, rambled about anything BUT the business for my time on the agenda. I was so incoherent you couldn’t make sense of it. No business objectives were met, or even attempted. Borderline defiance. By that standard, the worst business presentation I ever gave in my life, by a long shot. Laughably pathetic. And maybe the one I’m proudest of. I certainly scored myself terribly in the days that followed, on top of the moment. Now it’s at the top of the list.

Sometimes we get smarter with time, or at least what matters comes into sharper focus.

Sorry to be so “deep” at the start of the day. Hopefully you spend some quiet time today and think about those that don’t have the same privileges we do, and as a result, see some light on a dark day in history.


From: Sheri Gardner

Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 11:35 AM To: Kathy Mullins; Mark Olivito; Marketing Subject: RE: Sharing some thoughts on this day.

May we remember with a sense of loss, each of those 2,977 who perished 12 years ago, and the thousands of lives that day forever changed.

I was traveling on 9.11, flying into to Chi-town when the second tower was hit. Hard as an American to see machine gun nests on top of federal buildings; and mounted so quickly. Never gave a thought to the idea that we had those types of plans in place. Struggled to get cell service, car service, to get home to Memphis –fearful for your family, your country, yourself. Funny how quiet it is when there aren’t any aircraft flying, except for military jets.

Most of us grew up with stories of WWII –what it took, how long it took, how loose lips sink ships, when Hollywood was proud to be patriots and stars were giving up careers to enlist, the public going without meat and gas and nylon stockings and diaper pins for the sake of the war effort. Funny how that very worst time made that the very best generation American had ever seen, as individuals and as a country. Funny how we forget the stuff that’s supposed to be important.

Funny how I couldn’t help but think of that time and wonder, are we there again, and on our soil? And would we, could we, did we even want to be again our very best?

We all drank a ‘shot of courage’ at the Talbot hotel bar before setting out for home. Felt like Chicago was unsafe, so into Wisconsin we went, leaning on a favor a co-worker pulled and traveling by car service. Leaning on another favor another co-worker pulled and getting overnight accomodations. Leaning on the sister of a third co-worker, who lived in a small town, who secured a travel van. A long drive back; trapped with 11+ co-workers, making the best of it, trying to get through the worst of it. Passing cars with license plates from all over, with flags in windows, thinking, so that’s what one nation is about. Stopping for gas, for food, nodding and speaking to strangers and anxious for news. And mad as hell.

Days in front of the TV, really thinking there would be survivors and slowly wrapping your head around the magnitude of the damage, the sheer terrible awe seeing what jet fuel can really do to 101 story buildings.

And then the stories of courage, from first responders who ran TO instead of FROM; from people on the street helping strangers, in a city not particularly known for its hospitality, to passengers on Flight 93 who ‘rolled’, from the clergy of all faiths giving what comfort they could at ground zero, to search and rescue teams who came in from all over the country, with service dogs who worked until their paws were scorched, that let you know that spirit can be triumphant. Americans are different, and even when we are flawed I think we are exceptional. And I’ll take that, warts and all.

I think that 9.11 for me anyway, was a Pearl Harbor Day, a re-think of what’s important, and hopeful, that as Americans and as a world society, we would always call out cowardly acts for what they are; and respond gallantly in the face of danger to all that you hold to be dear and true.

From: Kathy Mullins

Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 8:30 AM To: Mark Olivito; Marketing Subject: RE: Sharing some thoughts on this day.

I remember the day well. Shock, disbelief and fear… all I wanted to do was go home and hold the boys… which is exactly what I did.

Your story about driving through NY and seeing how it brought people together reminds me of how great things can come out of great tragedy.

In the aftermath, there was a televised fundraising concert for the victims … hundreds of A-listers with very sincere intentions… you probably remember it.

I could not agree with you more about music bringing back memories and touching your soul.

The two songs that moved me the most were not written for the event… but certainly seemed so as the words and the music were so transcendently appropriate to the pain and intensity of the moment. One I sent yesterday, New York State of Mind, is one of my favorite songs of all time by one of my favorite artists of all time… I feel exactly same about Sting and his song… so if you’re in the mood for a little musical interlude this morning…

I guess is could sing them… but I’s rather let Sting and Billy do it.

Fragile… listen to the words-

Thank you, Mark… for reminding us what is important.

From: Sandi Gobble Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:58 PM To: Mark Olivito; Marketing Subject: RE: Sharing some thoughts on this day.

I was living and working in Birmingham, AL. as the Art Director for a fertilizer company. As some of you know, I listen to audio books on my drive into work and 9/11 was no different. I got off the elevator at work and the office was in turmoil. The receptionist was crying and people were hugging each other. I thought something had happened to someone I worked with. Somebody screamed from the conference room and then yelled “It happened again, a plane hit the other tower!” Still not knowing what had happened, I ran into the conference room and saw on TV the twin towers in flames and thought about the horror the people inside were faced with.

After the Pentagon was hit and then the plane crash in PA, the anxiety and fear in our office was almost unbearable. The situation was so far removed from normal – What would happen next? Were any of us safe? Who did this? Why? When will it stop? Not having our immediate family to comfort us, co-workers provided comfort to each other. We hugged, cried and shared our fears of what of this meant. All we could do at the time was comfort each other.

One thing was certain though, our lives changed that day and forever.

You have all heard of tree huggers. From that day forward I became a people hugger. I give hugs to people to share happiness, grief or stress. I hug to embrace differences and to celebrate successes. I also hug just to hug. A bear hug, an embrace, a little squeeze – a hug speaks louder than words.

Thank you Mark, the reflection is a reminder of how very blessed we are. I’ll be over later to give you a hug.


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