Joint Officers Column
October/November 2001 IBEW Journal
From Grief to Duty
We kicked off with meetings on Friday and Saturday to discuss and celebrate our diversity. We held an exposition that showed the breadth of the IBEW. We even managed to ave some fun with down home food and music to help celebrate our pride and our shared brotherhood.
The convention opened with a display of patriotism of the kind that had been falling out of fashion in many quarters of modern society, but that is much a part of the IBEW. Lee Greenwood sang "Proud to be an American" and celebrated Canada too. That same day we received the ultimate honors of our lives, being elected unanimously to the top offices of this great union.
By Tuesday morning, September 11, the world was a different place, and the celebration of union pride and spirit was tempered by grief, the tragedy of lost lives and the horror of a new and different kind of war.
The hearts of the entire IBEW family go out to the families of the 20 IBEW brothers from two New York locals who were victims of the attacks. Their nameslisted on the cover of this publicationwill be recorded with honor in the history of the IBEW. While the International and local leadership of the union were meeting in convention to conduct the very important business of the Brotherhood, our fallen members were doing what hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters do every daygoing to work to do a good job. They were simply trying to fulfill the goal to which all members aspireearning a good living to help realize their dreams for the future. For them, the dreams ended on September 11.
The tragic loss of life did not stop with our members. We have received reports of other members who lost loved ones in the attacks. The sheer enormity of the loss ensures that countless people across the United States and the world were directly touched.
The losses of September 11 go beyond the immediate families of those who died. As the outpouring of grief and support from around the world showed, the attacks were an affront to all people of good faith and good will. The attacks of September 11 were not directed against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon alone; they were aimed at the heart of freedom, democracy, tolerance and such ideals shared by people around the world.
A sense of security has surely been lost. A sense of grief will remain for some time. A sense of duty must motivate all of us in the IBEW. We will continue to work hard at our jobs. We will carry on the business of the Brotherhood. We will not change our determination to keep open the bridge to opportunity as embodied in our convention theme. We will build on the spirit of the convention to make progress for our members and their families, no matter how uncertain the economic times. We must continue to fight any misguided top-down attempts to impose drastic economic measures in the name of national security that protect corporations but ignore the well- being of working people.
The Declaration of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, contained at the front of our Constitution, states in part: "This Brotherhood will continue to oppose communism, Nazism or any other subversive ism."
To this we add "terrorism." And we, your officers, reaffirm the solemn duty also declared in our governing document, "We will support our God, our Nations, our Union."