TBS.04.02.15When we were in New York last week keynoting at the Customer Experience Conference, we had the opportunity to visit and pay our respects at the September 11th Memorial . Last year the new Freedom Tower which symbolizes the rebirth of the World Trade Center was completed, and we witnessed the installation of the needle-like spire that points skyward from the very top.

The scale and classic beauty of the memorial reflecting pools and the underground museum at ground zero were truly impressive. The pools sit at the bases of the former twin towers with cascades of free-falling water roaring into reflecting pools several stories below the ground, then disappearing into a dark square hole at the center. Surrounding the two pools are the names of the victims preserved and honored in a permanent memorial.

The tour of the memorial museum was particularly moving. First of all, it is a credit to the City of New York and the redevelopers of the World Trade Center that so much of this precious Manhattan real estate was permanently set aside to honor the victims and tell the story of this appalling day. The museum is right under ground zero, hollowed ground not just for Americans but for all freedom-loving people.

The self-guided tour begins with a long ramping gallery with low lighting. Descending deeper with the hushed group of visitors we saw and heard memorials of the folks who perished that day. These were vibrant innocent people of all races and creeds – just like us.

Then we saw what looked like pieces of modern impressionist sculpture until we realized these were huge, heavy, steel support columns and beams that were twisted beyond recognition by the heat of the burning jet fuel and the force and weight of the collapse. Witnessing the sheer power of this catastrophe was humbling.

Here and there, quotes, descriptions, and memorials were projected on buckled metal plates and chards of wreckage, reminding us of the horrific events of that day. The entire memorial is tastefully done and demonstrates a profound sensitivity to the memory of the victims. The use and integration of the very remnants of the buildings to deliver the message is at once sobering and a credit to the designers.

Along the way are numerous multimedia presentations including artifacts, letters, tools, scorched office equipment and many videos of the attack and aftermath.

There is a particularly interesting historical perspective that takes you through the events leading up to 9-11, chronicling the growth of the terrorist movement, where at one point, Bin Laden declares war, not just on the American forces in the middle east, but on what he calls “the American taxpayers,” the American people themselves.

Further on was gallery after gallery devoted to the heroism and sacrifice over the days and weeks that followed. You are struck by the dedication of the firefighters and emergency rescue people who risked and gave their own lives to save others. It made us realize what a high value we put on life in this country.

We were also struck by the way the technology of the day was frozen in time, now relics and artifacts of our world in 2001. It reminded us of how far we have come in the last 14 years. Burned blackberries, big clunky walky-talkies, scorched and bent paper file drawers bear testimony to a time not so long ago.

Every American should go and pay their respects to the innocent, the brave, and the heroes of 9-11. You will leave with more pride in your country, what we stand for as a society, and our resilience as a nation.

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.