Tempered Up

By Debra Levy

Whether September 11, 2001 ends up being the defining event of this century remains to be seen. The COVID pandemic in which we find ourselves will also be a major contender for the infamous moniker … and that’s even with nearly eight decades left for history to record before the end of this 100 years.

One thing is for sure, both events have changed almost every aspect of life in deep and profound ways. They have not only changed our lives, they have changed how we live them.

You know where you were on 9/11 and you always will. I was at an ANSI Standards Committee meeting in Minneapolis when a participant rushed in to say that planes were hitting buildings and we were under attack. “This is a joke, right?” the chairperson responded quickly, more hoping than asking. We all congregated in front of a 9-inch TV in a convenience store in the hotel’s lobby. My brother, (who just recently retired as an FDNY lieutenant), was working that day. When I realized what I might have just seen as the first tower fell, my knees buckled and I hit the ground. I was always grateful the screen wasn’t bigger.

The pain and loss—of life, of property, of opportunity—around both these events are difficult to communicate. After driving back from Minnesota, on a route that took me through Shanksville, Pa., by happenstance, we tore up the October issue of this magazine and started over. Just as our April issue captured COVID in glass last year, the October 2001 spoke to 9/11 with pictures of F-18 fighter jets made of Starphire glass.

September 11 has changed how we travel, how we ship goods, how we hire, how we look at buildings and planes and so many more things. They have changed our industry.

The invincible summer in the dark winter of 9/11 has stayed within us though. Our industry is still here. It continues to grow, to invent, to solve problems and to profit. It has learned how to adjust and pivot on a daily basis. Both 9/11 and COVID changed us; they did not destroy us. The glass industry itself had to temper up—we became harder and more resilient.

Part of that resilience will be on display this month in Atlanta as the industry gathers September 13-15 to see each other, learn new things and do the best we can in the times in which we live. I hope you will visit us in Booth 3006 at the show.

I will be there all week—and flying in on 9/11.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.