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,