(This post was updated on September 11, 2019)
Something vital to remember about the attacks of September 11, 2001 is that almost all those who perished, were killed while they were working, or while they were commuting to and from work.
The America that the terrorists hate, and which fuels their murderous impulses and rages, is not the reality of the nation constituted of hardworking people who day after day get up and go to and perform their jobs.
Work is high virtue.
Terrorists don’t consider much those who faithfully hold a job, or who faithfully hold two or three jobs, to earn money for food, a roof over their head, clothes, gas for the car … yes, necessities. Terrorists don’t understand that, for many, after paying for the necessities there is not much left over for luxury and indulgence.
Lost on the practitioners of evil and hate are the moms and dads whose commitment to working long and hard is one inspired and driven by a fierce devotion to, and providing for, their children.
Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services, founded in 1987, is fortunate to day in and day out work across America. We are fortunate to work in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets throughout our great republic.
Day in and day out we see and benefit from and are inspired with the work ethic and goodness of people.
We see and benefit from those who work for Willwork, some whom were born in the U.S., and some who were born in other countries and are now American citizens – and all of whom are thankful for the opportunity to work and earn and build a life in a free society.
Oh, for sure, we also see the problems; we deal with the problems. The United States has problems. We are imperfect and flawed. Injustice lives in our land.
We also know that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth, and that we are ever ascendant toward higher greatness, toward fully realizing … and here we invoke the words of our secular saint Abraham Lincoln … “the last best hope of earth.”
Those of us who work in the tradeshow and events and hospitality industries contribute in a major way to the economy and strength of America.
Willwork remembers, today, on this momentous anniversary, two gentlemen killed on that day, and to whom we have a bit of a communal and cosmic connection.
We remember two workers – two who did their job well and with fidelity.
Father Francis Grogan, C.S.C., 76, was a passenger on the plane, Flight 175, that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. At the time of his death, he was in between jobs, and would soon be leaving his position as director of the Holy Cross Residence in North Dartmouth, MA, to take on a new ministry, that of chaplain.
Father Grogan – known to many as “Father Frank” – was much beloved and known in Easton, the community 25 miles south of Boston where is located the Willwork corporate headquarters. A World War II U.S. Navy veteran, who served as a sonar operator on a destroyer, Father Grogan earned degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Fordham University.
Father Grogan was ordained in 1955. Over his long career, he held many chaplain, pastor, and teaching posts, both in the U.S. and abroad. Immediately after his ordination, Father Grogan became director of admissions and registrar at Stonehill College in Easton; and from 1965 through 1976, he was Assistant Pastor of Holy Cross Church in Easton.
Stonehill College is the alma mater of Willwork president, William F. Nixon Sr. Willwork maintains an internship program with Stonehill College, and has many Stonehill College grads in its ranks, including Denise Franzen, Administrative Director.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Steve Adams, 51, was at work. He was working at his job as beverage manager for the Windows on the World restaurant on the 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when Flight 11 hit the building.
On September 10, 2001, Mr. Adams and his wife, Jessica Murrow, had celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.
Steve Adams grew up in Easton. He graduated from Oliver Ames High School, the public school in Easton where William F. Nixon Sr. built his first career, as a highly successful athletic coach (he was most distinguished as the OAHS Tigers boys’ basketball coach) and history and social studies teacher. Mr. Nixon coached and taught at OAHS during the the time period Mr. Adams attended the school.
Mr. Adams lived a bit of bohemian lifestyle for many years, working at several jobs in the hospitality industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Marlboro College in Vermont. Early in his adult life, he wasn’t that successful professionally or at making money.
It would be in middle age when Steve Adams found professional success and started earning good money.
In April of 2001, Mr. Adams was hired as beverage manager for Windows on the World. It was a good job, a well-paying job, and one in which he quickly established himself as effective, reliable, and a deliverer of results.
Father Grogan and Steve Adams represent so much of what makes America good and great … one full of opportunity … one full of promise. Father Grogan and Steve Adams are surely threads woven into a fabric of American greatness.
Great effort … some of this effort heroic … would ensue in the wake of the devastation of 9/11.
People did their jobs; they did their jobs to respond and heal, to protect and rescue, to comfort and bear witness, to inspire and spread hope, to rebuild and reclaim …and to visit justice on perpetrators of evil.
Members of our armed forces and first responders were out front in the response, with many being heroic in the commission of their jobs.
And, ultimately, it would be no small achievement that America … across all vocations and industries … continued working. Some sustained merely a stumble and then got back to work.
We continued to build and fortify a keystone of American exceptionalism.
America continued to do its job.