Tom O'Connor Group

Economic and management consulting firm

9/11 – We Remember

9-11

 

My wife, Mary, originally wrote this on 9/11/01…

I, too, was stunned to hear the news this morning and continuing throughout the day.

It was just something unbelievable.  My husband and I were on a Land Rover 4X4 tour of the off-road areas of Barbados when we first got the news.

At first, when we got the very first news, around 9:30 am, I thought that it was some tale that the driver was weaving…and that there would be a punchline.  As the day wore on, more interest was on the radio than on the tour.  Some of the people in our Land Rover were from New York City and they were terrified for friends and family.

What an awful day in history this is, one of those that we’ll always remember where we were when we got the news.

Like the rest of you, I am stunned, absolutely shocked that this could happen, using our own planes, no less.  I cannot imagine the terror of the people on those planes, or in the World Trade Center…or the Pentagon.

The rest of the story:

The year of 911 my mom and my son had been with us for the first week. My son had to be back at college so on Sunday he shepherded my mom through the airport, customs and all and got her back home before he headed back to UMass/Amherst on Monday. Thank goodness they got back before the mayhem started!

On Tuesday we were out on a 4X4 from Island Safari with our favorite guide, Zario. Zario is a fun guy and and very knowledgeable about Barbados and world events. We were very happy to have him again because it was the “luck of the draw” which driver/guide we got.

I remember that morning being kind of stressed already – I was having trouble with one of my contacts and I was just grumpy.

Zario picked us up first, one of the benefits of staying at The Crane – everyone picks us first for everything and drops us off last. Then he picked up another couple from New York City who were staying at Bougainvillea.

The tour started off through the fields, down cliffs as usual. Zario had the radio on in the background. When we got to the first stop he told us that there was a “problem” in New York. That it seemed that a plane had hit a building. We thought that there was going to be a punch line somewhere. There wasn’t.

As the tour went on, the news got worse. The couple from NYC was very worried about relatives.

By the time we got to lunch and met up with the other 4x4s everyone had heard. We were in a little chattal house restaurant, the TV was on CNN and everyone was just watching in silence and horror. Usually this lunch is very festive and fun. Not a care in the world. Not today.

We left the New York people off at their hotel and went “home”. The TV was full of New York news, then Pentagon news. We know people who work at the Pentagon. The news just got worse as we went along.

We were basically stuck in Barbados.  Phones to the US didn’t work well, email was slow to non-existent, all we knew was what we got on CNN, incessantly.  My mother and son had been with us the week before and had just flown back the Saturday before.  I was so glad that they had gotten back home ok, then my son off to college.

We were supposed to fly home on the next Saturday, but if was iffy if that would happen since the airports were closed for the longest time.  We were flying into the DC area. The phone lines to the Barbados airport and to American Airlines were always busy.

Finally, we decided to give it a shot, packed up and went to the airport to see if we could fly out or not.  They could only guarantee the flight as far as Puerto Rico.

The San Juan airport was crowded with Americans trying to get home, flights being canceled due to closed airports, people sleeping all around the airport, using backpacks for pillows.  It was a very difficult time.

We did finally leave for home later that night.  This is what I wrote the next day…

I flew on American Airlines last night (9/14/2001).  We left Barbados on time but the connecting flight, originating out of Aruba was very late, and we waited for a long time in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After that flight had arrived though, we were all sitting around, hoping they’d board the plane soon.  All of a sudden, there was cheering in the hallway.  We turned to look – our pilot and crew were marching up the hallway with a huge American flag.  He stopped and talked to us.  He explained that the copilot would hang that flag outside his window as we taxied out of Puerto Rico and into Dulles.  The flag was making the rounds of American flights all over the country and that the yellow streamers hanging down were being signed by all the American crew members.  He posed for lots of pictures (I have some I’ll post later, when my eyes are less bleary!), then, as they were going to get the plane ready, he asked us in a loud voice if we were ready to fly to Washington and everyone cheered.

Along the way, he thanked us so much for having faith and flying (like we had any choice!).  The headphones for the movie and the drinks were all free on this flight!  He also told us that there were a lot of fighter planes in the Washington to NY corridor and not to be surprised if we were intercepted by one, who would just be making sure that we were “who we said we were”.  I thought that would be kind of neat to see, but I didn’t see them.  We arrived in Dulles (Washington, DC) with a jet fighter escort.  At the time, that sounded so comforting, but it turned out that they had been there to shoot us down, if we’d made any funny moves.

Then, when we arrived at the terminal, the captain said that we were back in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and got some more cheers.

It was a memorable flight for someone like me, who is terrified of flying under the best of circumstances.

Us, on 9/10/01. Who knew?

9/14, San Juan Puerto Rico:
After the crew marched down the hallway.

The captain, letting others have a chance to fly the flag.

This young woman lead us onto the plane.

MaryOUSAheart

Labor Day, Always the First Monday in September

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Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September celebrating the economic and social contributions of workers.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike. With the decline in union membership, the holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbecues and the end of summer vacations – and time to go back to school in Fairfax County.

 

Independence Day, 2016

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Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.

Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “God Bless America”, “America the Beautiful”, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, “This Land Is Your Land”, “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and, regionally, “Yankee Doodle” in northeastern states and “Dixie” in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.

A bit of audio for your listening pleasure, as played by Vladimir Horowitz…

National Flag Day

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On June 14th, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19 year old teacher at Stony Hill School, placed a 10 inch, 38- star flag in a bottle on his desk then assigned essays on the flag and its significance.

He chose this date because Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. This observance was also the beginning of Cigrand’s long years of fervent and devoted effort to bring about national recognition and observance of Flag Day.

The crowning achievement of his life came at age fifty when President Wilson, on May 30, 1916, issued a proclamation calling for a nation wide observance of Flag Day.

Then in 1949, President Truman signed an Act Of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day. On June 14th, 2004, the 108th U.S. Congress voted unanimously on H.R. 662 that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Waubeka Wisconsin.

National Moment of Remembrance

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The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute. The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather, it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died in service to the United States.

As laid out in Public Law 106-579, the National Moment of Remembrance is to be practiced by all Americans throughout the nation at 3pm local time. At the same time, a number of organizations throughout the country also observe the Moment: all Major League Baseball games halt, Amtrak train whistles sound across the country, and hundreds of other nationwide participants remind Americans to pause for the Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance.

Memorial Day 2016

Memorial-Day

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

A tribute to the men and women who fearlessly defend the freedoms we all enjoy. God bless them.

 

A quick reference:

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Flying Scotsman trip back on after Network Rail U-turn

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The Flying Scotsman’s planned trips in Borders and Fife are to go ahead after earlier being cancelled at short notice.

Track operator Network Rail said on Friday that the famous steam locomotive would no longer be able to undertake planned tours on Sunday because safety assessments had not been carried out on some lines in time. Scotland’s transport minister, Derek Mackay, accused the rail body of “appalling incompetence” and started talks to restore some of the route.

He later tweeted: “Solved. Flying Scotsman will run on Borders and Fife. Questions remain on how it came to this, but thanks a solution was found.”

The Network Rail chief executive, Mark Carne, offered a “wholehearted and sincere apology” and said an investigation into Friday’s cancellation would still take place. “Overnight and through today, our engineers and analysts have worked hard to find a way to get the necessary safety checks and engineering assessments done,” Carne said. “I am pleased to say that we have been successful and are now able to reinstate the original planned tours of Flying Scotsman in Scotland on Sunday.

“I wholeheartedly and sincerely apologise for the consternation caused by the premature announcement yesterday. Once the tours have been safely and successfully run, I will be instigating a full investigation into how this problem occurred on our railway in Scotland.”

The locomotive is due to arrive at Edinburgh Waverley from York on Saturday and earlier plans would have seen a vintage diesel engine take over for Sunday’s trips on the new Borders Railway to Tweedbank and across the Forth Bridge.

The cancellation had dismayed hundreds of rail enthusiasts planning to see the recently refurbished steam engine. Excursion operators Steam Dreams said Network Rail had known about the trips for months but left work “until the last minute”.

Built in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in 1923, Flying Scotsman pulled the first train to break the 100mph barrier in 1934. The National Railway Museum in York bought the locomotive for £2.3m in 2004 before work got under way on its decade-long restoration two years later.

Network Rail was forced to pay out almost £60,000 in compensation when dozens of train services were delayed by people encroaching on the track during the refurbished train’s inaugural run from London to York on 2 February this year.

Mackay said: “This is welcome news and, as a result of concerted local action, I hope that many people will now get to enjoy the experience of Flying Scotsman returning to Fife, Midlothian and the Borders.

“This, however, does not explain how we ended up in this farcical situation, nor will it comfort the many people who have been looking forward to this day and have had to amend or cancel travel plans at the last minute.

“This is not the end of the matter, I am still committed to seeing a full investigation into the reason why the initial work by Network Rail GB was not completed in time and how it was mishandled so badly.”

From http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/14/flying-scotsman-trip-back-on-after-network-rail-u-turn

 

Today is the Former Train Day

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National Train Day was a holiday started by Amtrak in 2008 as a method to spread information to the general public about the advantages of railway travel and the history of trains in the United States.

It was held each year on the Saturday closest to May 10, the anniversary of the pounding of the Golden spike in Promontory, Utah which marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S.

Events were held at major Amtrak stations as well as railroad museums across the country and often have passenger cars and model railroad layouts on display. The largest events took place in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles.

National Train Day was discontinued after 2015 due to budget cuts within Amtrak.

Happy Mother’s Day!

happy-mothers-day

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Father’s Day and Siblings Day.

In the United States, celebration of Mother’s Day began in the early 20th century.

It was in 1905 when Mother’s Day was finally introduced successfully by Anna Jarvis. She started a dedicated letter writing campaign to declare an official Mother’s Day. Through Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, the first Mother’s Day was observed on May 10, 1908.

This day, to honor Anna Jarvis’s mother grew into a National Observance until in 1911 every state participated. Soon it was spreading internationally and on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May.

Don’t Forget!

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