From sea to shining sea

The world as we know it changed forever Sept. 11, when unspeakable evil took over our airways, ending thousands of lives and casting a shadow of fear over freedom-loving Americans. Reports published in the days since marveled at the groundswell of patriotism among Americans. Wal-Mart sold record numbers of flags. Phones rang off the hook at military enlistment offices. Churches, parks and businesses held candlelight vigils and prayer meetings. The horrific events that snuffed out so many American lives breathed new life into our national spirit.

For many Americans, it takes such tragedy to fan the flames of their patriotism. Not so for truckers. Because your freedom and way of life are on the line each day, you do not take your country for granted. You work harder and longer than most to maintain your independence. And you know in your heart that America is the only country on earth where true independence is still possible.

And so it’s not surprising that truckers were among the first to respond to this tragedy. Fleets turned reefers into rolling morgues. Truck stops launched blood drives. Owner-operators loaded supplies on their trailers and headed east.

“This is part of being an American,” says owner-operator Jerry Reese, Statesville, N.C. When we spoke, Jerry and his wife Judy were waiting near the World Trade Center remnants with a load of supplies for the rescue workers. “You look in the faces of the police and firefighters, and it’s sad,” Reese says. “There’s just a gloom over this city.”

The pall that has spread over New York City and our entire nation will not soon lift. But the outpouring of support from an industry as diverse as trucking is proof that America is truly one nation, under God, indivisible. And trucking’s response has come, not only from within our borders, but from abroad, as well. An Australian trucker posted this on eTrucker’s board:

To all you in America, if we could drive our rigs across the Pacific we would bloody well be with you right now, lending a helping hand. But as that is not possible, keep your chin up and those big wheels turning.

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Throughout the sadness and uncertainty of the coming days, one thing is clear: No matter what awaits us as we respond to these barbaric acts, the wheels of this great nation will roll on.

God bless America. And God bless the men and women who move it.