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Honoring Virtue, and Remembering Two Gentlemen Who Perished on September 11, 2001

(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 Francis Grogan (image credit: WPI)

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.

Steve Adams (image credit: The Enterprise)

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.

For Labor Day 2018, a Reflection and Treatise on Work – and Curiosities Related to Labor

Labor Day postcard

“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.”

MARGARET MEAD

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a leader in exhibition services and event project management.

When we were founded, in 1987, we had one employee, and our office was in the basement of a residence – a house, more specifically.  Our technology and office furniture and equipment consisted of a desk, chair, lamp, paper files, and telephone and telephone answering machine.

Why Willwork is where it is now is because of many factors – primary among them, maintaining focus, a commitment to innovation, superior recruitment that contributes to a team of superior employees, supporting and providing our employees with many resources for professional development, our all-star business partners … and a lot of daring and enthusiasm.

Willwork has also benefited from operating and competing in a free and open and capitalist economy.

But, then, all these factors … all these conditions … will not bring about success if absent is hard work.

It is when you add hard work to the mix that you have something special.

Hard work is sacred – and hard work is high virtue.

Now in our fourth decade in business, Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a legacy of hard work.

Across our social media network, Willwork frequently discusses matters pertaining to labor and work.  Then, again, that would make sense.

Please click here to be taken to the post we published for Labor Day 2017, and here to be transported to the post we published for Labor Day 2016.

On October 6 of last year, we published here a post on “Persistence.”   Work is at the core of persistence.

As well, on this blog, there is the post which ran on May 26 of last year, the focus of which is an epic demonstration and execution of work that played a pivotal role in the launch of the United States of America.  Clicking here will take you to that post.

For Labor Day 2018, Willwork, publishes here a reflection on work, on different perspectives on work.

What is the most important work?  It would be tough to argue that the dangerous and life-saving, freedom and liberty protecting work of those who wear the uniform of the U.S. military is not the most important work.  And, within that vocation, those who serve in a combat capacity know a particularly urgent and vital and sacred form of work.

Our first responders – police and firefighters – do among the most important work.  They are frequently called to put their lives on the line.

Doctors and nurses save lives; that is important work.  Teachers prepare, instruct, and inspire those who are the future – yes, that is important work.

Wait, how about parents, and grandparents?  When you a see a successful and well-adjusted and responsible person, there is a good chance … almost a certainty, actually … that she had an upbringing in which a good and caring parent, or parents, whether biological or not … or both … exerted strong influence.

What is hard work?

There are those who estimate that only hard physical labor is hard work.  They have a point, a point that can be supported. For sure, manual labor ranks near the top of  the most noble and admirable work – whether that work is exhausting or only mildly taxing.  Physical labor holds and transmits a special value and worth.

Loggers, stone masons, iron workers, house framers, roofers (and add your own physical laborer) – they know what it is to work.

And let’s not forget that physical labor and sharp reasoning and strategy literally … and figuratively … move the world.  Airline executive Colleen Barrett had it right when she observed, “When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers.”

Yet hard work hard is just not hard physical work.  Hard work is an exercise that involves long hours and intense focus and effort, whether it is writing software code or writing a novel; building a stone wall or building a team; driving a truck or driving a nail; planting and growing plants in a field, or planting and growing ideas and imagination in a mind; planning and coordinating freight logistics, or driving the truck transporting the freight.

On another matter pertaining to hard work … let’s face it … there can most certainly be an element of pomposity and conceit in the declaration that to achieve financial wealth all it takes is hard work, and that the level of hard work one expends is commensurate with one’s net worth.

If that were true, ranking with the world’s richest (money wise) would be all dedicated and good parents and parental figures – and all farmers across the developing world.

What are other exhausting jobs – with exhaustion a mix of physical and mental exhaustion?

It would be tough to argue that the training and performance needed to qualify and become a member of the United States Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Teams (SEALs) does not reside near the top – if not the top – of the most exhausting jobs on earth.  Brutal … absolutely brutal … what is required to become a SEAL … to join one of the most effective and elite fighting forces on earth.

Then, again, even basic training for any of the branches of the U.S. military is a demanding experience.

Elite competitive endurance athletes – whatever the sport … running, rowing, cross-country skiing, cycling, swimming …  are in the running for most exhausting.  We mean, really, your job is to be tired, and frequently to go into oxygen debt.

Martial arts sports, like boxing, karate, kung fu, judo, jiu-jitsu .. and other forms … and mixtures of the forms … are a tough way to make a living.  So too are collision sports, like football and hockey.  Martial arts and collision sports are exhausting, and painful.

What countries are the hardest working?

On September 2, 2016, U.S. News & World Report published a story, “This Labor Day Weekend, a Look at the Hardest-Working Countries: At least 16 other countries clock in more working hours each year than the U.S.”  The story, written by Deirdre McPhillips, cites a study of 38 countries that was produced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Here is an excerpt from the story:

“Struggling with work-life balance and often opting to pass up vacation plans to spend more time in the office, workers in the U.S. may be surprised to learn that there are a number of other countries in which workers put in more hours. In fact, the average 42.8 work week in Mexico is about a full workday longer than the average U.S. worker’s 34.4 hours work week.”

In 2016, Vin Scully retired as a play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a job he held for 67 years (when he started with the organization, in 1960, it was the Brooklyn Dodgers).  Mr. Scully is a legendary figure in sports announcing, and the length of his career is amazing.

Of course there is the gentleman who held a job with the same company for 80 years? To read about him, and other long-serving employees, please click here to be transported to the CNN Money story, “Meet the Vin Scullys of the American workplace,” published on September 26, 2016, and written by Ahiza Garcia.

Scariest jobs in the world?  On September 3, 2015, the news and entertainment site ScoopWhoop published an article,  “13 Of The World’s Scariest Jobs That Are Not For The Faint Of Heart.”  Written by Rohit Bhattacharya, the piece is an interesting read.

A note and teaser and spoiler here.  As listed in the article, the scariest job in the world – and among the reasons cited to support the ranking is that the job “makes up a third of all occupational deaths in Alaska” – is Alaskan king crab fisherman.  Coming in at number two on the list is … and this makes total sense … is piloting through a hurricane.

Then there are weird … strange … jobs. Dog surfing instructor, fortune cookie writer, and dog food taster are occupations (at least on a part-time basis) that you will find featured and described in the Business Insider story (published on July 10, 2015), “12 weird jobs you’ll be surprised to know exist,”  by Jacqueline Smith and Steven Benna.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services believes that America is a nation whose marrow and soul is one that possesses a vibrant work ethic and inextinguishable fire that drives it to toil long and hard to achieve.

We also believe that no country on the planet provides more opportunity for those willing to work long and hard than does the United States of America.

Happy Labor Day to All!!