The heroic actions taken by so many to help, save and comfort others. Our collective loss. Describing the events of that day is difficult and emotional. I remember it was a beautiful day with bright blue skies and not a cloud for as far as the eye can see.
I spent some time thinking about the day after 9/11, what I remember and what we experienced. We had every TV in the house turned on. I can still see the video in my head of the Towers falling, the Pentagon, and the field in Shanksville, PA. It was here where Todd Beamer and the men and women on United Flight 93 would end their heroic fight with the bad guys. They saved many lives.
I didn’t go to work that day like so many others. The lot where people parked to commute by train to NYC was still full of cars. I reasoned on this day that it was because so many hadn’t come home the night before. On this day, I would start to pick up our local papers. I did this for several weeks, to read about the people who lost their lives. I would find the names of a dozen people I knew in some way, shape or form. These included a friend and brother from my college fraternity. The American Red Cross parking lot near my house was full of vehicles. Cars were also parked all over the grass in front of the building. These were the cars of local citizens donating blood. I remember driving through town, everyone you saw had pain in their eyes. People stopped to let you pass; everyone held doors open for one another. I saw many people hugging each other, embracing and supporting.
The company I was working for at the time was not doing well. We were due to close a deal for a much-needed investment on 9/11 but the events of the day postponed it. We figured we would go out of business.
On 9/12 we started to see the first of what would become frequent interviews with Howard Lutnick. He is the CEO of the NYC-based brokerage, Cantor Fitzgerald. His business had lost many people including two of my friends. He helped many families and kept the firm alive.
Our three young boys became fixated on the TV. We tried to describe what had happened but no amount of explaining made any sense to them, or us. We had the family over to our house and spent time with close friends sharing stories. The TV continued to show the jagged piece of metal which was all that remained of the place where I once worked. I thought about the people inside the buildings a lot. I remember what it was like going down 72 flights of stairs on 2/26/1993. This is the date of the first World Trade Center attack. I couldn’t get my head around it then and still cannot to this day.
On this day and for weeks many people were interviewed on TV describing what they saw or experienced. They were looking for lost friends or family members. They described what they looked like and repeated their names. You could see the hope in their eyes that someone watching had seen them. People started to post pictures around the WTC site. In a few days, they would show up at the train station near where I live. The unclaimed cars of the victims remained. Everyone hoped and prayed their loved one would come home, alive.
On 9/12/2001 we started to learn about the fearless leadership of the firefighters and police officers. These stories would continue for years. We came to know the personalities of these heroes and the actions they had taken to help others. The collective response of these men and women was limitless and without boundaries of any kind.
It’s been 15 years, in our yard the flag will fly at half-mast for the month of September. We respect and honor those who have fallen. Despite such a tragic event, I firmly believe people are kind and genuine in heart. Soon October will approach and remind me to raise the flag. I will cry once again knowing I will have to find the strength to raise it.
My best, Chris
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