It is always this time every year that I find my mind wandering inexorably back to that place I was the morning of September 11, 2001, and how lower manhattan felt in the weeks and months that followed.
Unable to sleep last night, I stayed up late and wrote out something much, much longer than what I am posting now. Yet no matter how I look at it, I have always hated discussing the events of that day. Every year on 9/11 people talk about where they were on that day, which TV they watched the news on, whose 3rd grade class was interrupted by the events. I always sit and nod politely and leave the conversation. Talking about it in that context seems so gratuitous, and so self-indulgent. So self-aggrandizing and disrespectful to everyone who lost their life or that of a loved one that day. I don't know how to tell my story without feeing like the recipient of undeserved sympathy and attention, so I have decided I won't bother with any of that. That said, if people want to talk about their experiences, I welcome them in this forum - I'm sure many of you had friends at Cantor or EuroBrokers or Aon.
I just want to share two recollections - firstly, that of the
countless heartbreaking missing posters
https://www.google.com/search?q=9/11+missing+poste... . Taped to the chainlink fence, and the facades of buildings, and bus stops, and lampposts by the bereaved, hoping beyond a hope to find their loved ones unharmed. I remember these posters adorned with flowers and tearful handwritten goodbyes, left behind for weeks if not months, each face an uncomfortable, poignant window into a shattered life, strewn among so much human detritus.
I didn't understand just how sad all those posters were at the time. Looking at them now as an adult, I see the goofy 80's-style glasses and facial hair, the chubby faces of people who could easily be my colleagues. A bunch of bankers and lawyers, traders and brokers who went to work that morning to prep some materials for a 9AM call and never got home. On this day of remembrance, they remind me to always cherish the time you have and those you share it with, because it goes away in the blink of an eye.
Secondly, I want to remember New Yorkers and Americans pulling together in the weeks and months that followed in a stunning effort of charity and communal goodwill. For many, especially those that are younger on this board, it is hard to conceptualize the tide of righteousness that our nation rode on the crest of after 9/11. But for those who are older, they will remember every American and free person worldwide sharing a sense of goodwill and solidarity with NYC and the other victims of the attack. We returned to our roots as the guarantor of global freedom, and though we erred (as we frequently have in our history), I want to underscore that when disaster strikes and the good must act, this nation rose to the challenge like a phoenix from ash. It was a testament to the greatness of the American spirit, the strongest force on earth to be reckoned with.
So on this day, I renew my resolve to never forget that while it may not always be close to mind, I am so proud to count myself among the representatives of this great nation.