Leaders lead. It is as simple and as complicated as that.
One particular story of heroic leadership from that day 13 years ago has always impressed me.
A leader of the New York Transit Authority was doing what she did everyday – supervising operations at a subway station in downtown New York. And, on this very normal day, the most horrific attack on American soil took place: the destruction of the Trade Towers, the attack on the Pentagon, the attack denied by brave Americans over the hills of Pennsylvania, and the undeniable fact that terrorism had come to America.
The planes flying into the Trade Towers did not impact her subway station immediately. But, she acted; she demonstrated amazing leadership. Within a few minutes of hearing of the first plane’s destructive path, she ordered that her station be closed, that all trains be moved out and that all personnel be evacuated. She did not wait for her supervisor to call. She did not call a team meeting to weigh options. She did not count the cost of being found wrong by a future investigation. She acted and lives and property were saved.
I know that many people will ask me today, “Where were you 13 years ago?” It’s a good question and I have my own story. But, I believe the more important question is, “Where am I today?”
Do you remember those days after 911? We looked out for each other. Our eyes filled with tears when patriotic music filled the air. We thanked police officers and fire fighters and teachers and American troops and pastors and business owners and parents and anyone who made America better.
Are we still promoting those behaviors, those attitudes? Will our words and actions tell others today that we believe in America and that we are working to make her stronger and better?
Do we take time to pray for our nation’s leaders, our first responders, our military, our pastors?
Will we make our political candidates this fall believe in truth, justice and the American way? Will we tell them know that we are raising the bar?
Would I have given the order to close that subway station 13 years ago? Would I have the courage to do it today?
God, On this important day of Remembrance, as we comfort those who mourn and suffer painful memories, we recommit ourselves to righteousness. We want to step up our game, to live lives of integrity, to be men and women of faith, to do the right thing – every single time. Our nation, our families, our souls depend on it. Teach us, Lord, to lead.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9