The Government Man Reflects on 9/11

This is basically a repeat of the blog I posted last 9/11.

On the eleventh anniversary of the worst day in the history of this country the Government Man will dispense with the usual satire and comedy. Poking fun at what people take seriously is something I enjoy doing but there is nothing funny about 9/11.

Since it has become fashionable to trash and bash govies these days I will reflect upon the marvelous job my fellow feds did responding to 9/11. I was a senior member of the GSA response team in New York and although I retired with almost 39 years of government service the defining moment came when we were called upon to respond to 9/11. I was never so proud of leading such a dedicated team. We had been experienced in covering emergencies but never one of this magnitude and never one in which our own workplaces and families were so severely impacted.

While most of America watched the events on TV, our GSA team worked 24/7 out of a command center to replace close to one million square feet of destroyed government space, mainly belonging to law enforcement agencies. We put seven federal buildings (including two courthouses and a detention center) with minimal damage back on line and reestablished over 10,000 phone lines. Our brothers and sisters in Washington were doing the same thing and our associates throughout the country became virtual New Yorkers in helping us process information while our own systems were down. In the months that followed we had a steady stream of dedicated people who came to New York to augment our specialists and help our customer agencies get back in business while placating their shattered nerves.

While the recovery was happening we were also dealing with a series of anthrax scares which accelerated the paranoia. The White House established a policy that federal agencies would move back into the serviceable federal buildings. This eliminated debate about not returnuing to high-rise federal space.

When we eventually returned to our own offices at 26 Federal Plaza there was a lot of hugging and a lot of tears. Reluctantly, we were part of history. When somebody makes a disparaging remark about government employees I quietly respond with, “Where were you on 9/11?”

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