Why We're Offering a "Resiliency Essay" Competition
"Reclaiming the Sky" is a story of every day Americans who came into work on September 11, 2001 expecting a normal day only to find America under vicious attack, one in which their industry was used as the means.
It's a story of brave men and women - in the air and on the ground in New York/Newark, Boston, Washington, DC and Shanksville, PA - who "rose up" under great duress, and inestimable loss, to meet the challenges of that day and of the weeks and months that followed to build back and get their industry and America moving again.
We call it "resiliency," but on that day they were simply a group of men and women who reached deep down to find the strength to act from core beliefs around duty, courage and selflessness to support each other and the public they were charged with protecting.
And so as we approach a milestone anniversary of that calamitous day that rocked our country twenty years ago and shapes us still, we offer a "resiliency essay" competition. Our goals is to give people today - including airport and airline employees, students and military personnel through our Edge4Vets program - a chance to tell how they can apply the lessons of courage and resiliency from those stories to their lives. The essay competition gives them a chance to tell how the stories can inspire them to meet challenges from today's Covid 19 crisis and move forward with confidence and positive energy.
We do not need to think of ourselves as victims when calamity befalls us. This I learned from the heroes I profiled in "Reclaiming the Sky." This group from Newark, Boston and Washington, DC. did not know each other; I knew them from my work with them. But a common thread binds them, a belief that when struck down, we can get back up again if we focus our energies "outward" toward others, not inward on ourselves, where anger and resentment can fester.
And so that became the theme of "Reclaiming the Sky" - that we move forward in life after loss when we look to find a purpose, some way to focus our energies "outward" to meet the needs of others.
"When you're hurting, find something you can do for someone else," said Sue Baer, the general manager of Newark Airport, whose words offered a road map to recovery.
It comes down to this: when faced with loss, we move forward by doing for others. And when we do, we can deal with anything.
We can prevail, not simply endure, no matter how great our loss, as Sue and the others show so clearly.
Director, Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University, and President, Service Institute
Contact Tom at: Tom@TomMurphy.org
Note: Tom founded the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham in 2006 in conjunction with Dr. James Hennessy, then Dean of the Graduate School of Education, to put the “resiliency” lessons from the heroes in "Reclaiming the Sky" into action through programs. (See Dr. Hennessy's letter.) Today, the institute is part of the Gabelli School of Business. For full details on its work as it grows and expands, see edge4vets.org.
View the Edge4Vets program