The worst of times

Oct. 1, 2001
I am writing this column only days after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. Since FLEET OWNER is a monthly magazine with relatively long production and distribution lead times, it will be weeks before you read it. There is no way to anticipate what will happen in those weeks. Nor is it possible to speak so close to such horrific events with the perspective that comes only with

I am writing this column only days after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. Since FLEET OWNER is a monthly magazine with relatively long production and distribution lead times, it will be weeks before you read it. There is no way to anticipate what will happen in those weeks. Nor is it possible to speak so close to such horrific events with the perspective that comes only with the passage of time. However, it is equally impossible to write about any other topic. The acts of a single day and our country's reaction to those acts have suddenly rendered everything else trivial.

Although in those moments we became, as one observer put it, a country with a broken heart, the people in trucking responded magnificently.

On the local level, construction companies had their heavy equipment and trucks at the sites of the attacks within the hour, ready to wholeheartedly throw their special skills and abilities into rescue efforts amid unimaginable destruction. Despite the fear and confusion, area fleets immediately set up depots and distribution chains to bring the mountains of supplies needed down to the rescue sites.

Nationally, the industry responded with both its hands and its hearts. With aircraft grounded, trucking picked up the sudden influx of expedited freight without breaking stride. While life came to a halt in homes and businesses throughout the country, truckers kept their eyes on the critical job at hand and stayed on the roads, moving the freight needed to keep the country moving.

Fleets and industry suppliers also moved quickly to offer trucks, personnel, freight service, money, equipment and whatever else they had that might be needed to deal with the aftermath of the attacks. And, most importantly, you joined the entire nation in demonstrating American humanity and strength in the worst of times.

Our first responsibility as an industry publication is to help trucking understand and deal with both the short- and long-term implications of this assault and its aftermath. The real value of our web site became clear on September 11 when it allowed us to move immediately to cover quickly evolving events, filtering the huge stream of general news for the information that those in the trucking industry needed most to cope with the emergency. Whether it was alerts on road closures, calls for trucks to help in the rescue efforts, or reports on the industry's responses, we were grateful we had a channel to rapidly provide information we believed would help you respond as best you could.

The coming weeks and months will offer opportunity for reflection and reasoned reaction to these overwhelming events. While FLEET OWNER will stay on top of daily developments through our web site and email newsletter, as a magazine, we're also committed to developing the in-depth analysis of this complex situation that can only come with the perspective gained over time. You can look for that coverage in the November magazine and subsequent issues.

The trucking industry is clearly doing its part to help the country deal with this tragedy, and we will do all we can to support and further that effort.

E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: www.fleetowner.com

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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