Community Commentary -- Hector Barreto

Hector Barreto

There were dozens of stories on Sept. 12, 2001, that said “Everything

has changed.” Let me tell you what has not changed.

We gathered in Washington, D.C., beginning May 6, to celebrate Small


Business Week precisely because the resolve and determination of the

millions of American small business owners has not changed. The attack on

our country was also an attack on our way of life, our belief in freedom

and our conviction that free enterprise is the gateway to happiness and


prosperity for anyone who works hard and provides a quality product or


Since 1963, the Small Business Administration has hosted National

Small Business Week, a week in May when an amazing cross-section of

talented and creative businessmen and women from all over America come

together to celebrate their accomplishments. Every state names a Small

Business Person of the Year, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto

Rico and Guam. We also recognized small businesses that suffered from the


terrorist attacks in New York and Virginia, firefighters and police

officers for their bravery, and the Advocacy Award winners for their

efforts on behalf of small businesses.

Later in the week, we honor federal contractors at the 35th Annual

Procurement Conference. This year, the recipients of those awards will be

honored with a special acknowledgment of their resiliency and what it

meant to all of us last fall when they pressed on, with flags in the

windows, with resolve in their hearts, to continue living the dramatic


story of the most prosperous country the world has ever seen.

There won’t be a story on the evening news tonight about George and

Peggy Brown and their Lucky Wishbone Restaurant in Anchorage, or Dean

Kloewer and his Panama Transport freight company in Iowa. They are the

quiet soldiers of the American 21st century -- they win their battles by

simply hanging an “Open” sign in the door.

I was “minding my own [small] business” when President Bush, another

former businessman, asked me to lead the Small Business Administration.

Like all of you, I could not have imagined when I took the oath of office

in July what lay ahead in September. Since those events, we have all

witnessed a characteristically American brand of patriotism -- stubborn

and hardy enough to withstand the attacks of Sept. 11, persistent and

determined enough to preserve our society and our economy, even if our

attackers did not expect that of us.

The response of millions of Americans and millions of businessmen and

women -- the normalcy of their daily activities, the generosity of their

charity and the kindness of their unquestioning sympathy -- has vividly

illustrated to our opponents our resolve as a nation to withstand and

overcome the challenges thrown against us.

I am honored to have been a part of this response, and I will take

great pride in welcoming our honorees to Washington, D.C., to salute

their accomplishments and congratulate them for chasing their dreams with

innovation, dedication and hard work.

America is the land where free men and women can realize their dreams,

the country where hard work and honest effort can provide peace and

prosperity for all. And small business is where America works. That

hasn’t changed. It never will.

Please join President Bush, the SBA and millions of small business

owners and employees as we recognize their many contributions to our

lives and our country’s vitality.

HECTOR BARRETO, formerly of Glendale, is administrator of the U.S.

Small Business Administration,