One of the many pitfalls of editing a magazine is the lead-time it takes to actually produce, build, and publish a single issue. As of this writing (September 18, 2001), it has been just one week since the horrific events that played out on this nation's soil. Now, by the time our readers actually sit down to read this issue, we may be at war, but for the moment, it is still a matter of talk. Everyone I have spoken with has known someone be they a family friend, a relative, or a loved one that was affected by the incidents at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The amazing thing about the terrorist attack has been the resiliency of the American people who do not let this massive disaster interfere with what we all know to be right: freedom and democracy.
Unfortunately, the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center in New York City destroyed thousands of lives and destroyed many of the perceptions of freedoms and choices we as Americans previously took for granted. But we don't have to let them have the last word.
Everywhere I go, there are American flags flying. They are draped on antennas, from freeway overpasses, on homes all over the place, hanging in storefront windows, and so forth. Not only is the flag a symbol of our freedom, it is also a giant rallying point that means so many different things to different people. In addition to the flag, there have been myriad donation efforts to aid the thousands -- including hundreds of rescue workers -- of people lost in this tragedy. I, for one, cannot recall a time in America when there has been this much sentiment among our citizens. Probably the last time was back in 1990-1991 when Americans were engaged in another conflict in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf War.
To me, this is sad. Why can't we have the same Americanism or patriotism that has been displayed both recently and 10 years ago everyday? The flag, democracy, patriotism, and our attitudes about America are running at an all-time high. That's great. I love it. Why don't we fly the American flag all year, 365 days and nights (flag lit, of course)? After all, it is a symbol of us as citizens, as Americans, and as human beings.
So when I sat down to write this editorial, two things immediately occurred to me. First, because of the enormous lead-time (remember, three months), I wondered if I should even discuss the attack on September 11; by the time you read this, the entire country could be at war and then my editorial would be completely untimely. However, my second thought was to take a look at past issues of Truckin' from 1990 and 1991 when Steve Stillwell was editing the magazine. Steve wrote about the war effort in the Gulf with great dignity to the country and the military forces stationed over there. My hat was and still is off to Steve for his highly dignified words. All of this past week's events and even the events of the past 10 years have made me realize how small this world really is and how important each day of our lives are.
Basically, my editorial is this: We are in the entertainment business, pure and simple. Outside of the little publishing world each of my colleagues inhabit, our world is very small. We all know each other and see each other regularly. Our business and the business of our competitors is to entertain you, the reader. We do that by providing the best editorial package we can through multiple colored features, informative technical stories, and around-the-country truck show coverage. At the end of the day, whether or not you believe in what we tell you is not for us to judge. While we would love for you to buy and customize your truck or SUV through the use of our advertisers' products, we cannot make you. Our main objective is to educate, inform, entertain, and, above all, have fun doing it -- plus be good human beings to our fellow citizens. I think this is all we can ever do in any chosen profession.
Yes, September 11, 2001 will live in infamy for us who lived through it. It will be in every American school textbook to let future generations learn about our past and, hopefully, not repeat the same mistakes we or others have made. This is what makes America great: the opportunity to express opinions, whether or not each reader or citizen agrees with it. There will be thousands of letters from readers who may or may not agree with every subject I discuss, but that's fine. That is the main objective of any editorial: to get you thinking. On any given topic, do you think I'm right or wrong?
Ultimately it comes down to your opinion and your right to maintain that opinion. That is what America is all about: choices. Unfortunately, the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center in New York City destroyed thousands of lives and destroyed many of the perceptions of freedoms and choices we as Americans previously took for granted. But we don't have to let them have the last word.