This week has been filled with TV specials, articles and events centered around the 10th anniversary of 9/11. And rightfully so. Having lived through that awful day watching the towers fall from roughly a mile away I have vivid memories of not only that day, but the following weeks and months. I actually try not to think about it too much, but now seems an appropriate time to remember and honor those who were lost and those who carried on in their absence.
The stories of the families who lost loved ones are heart wrenching. While my company did not lose any staff, that day we did lose 40+ companies with whom we did business as well as 6 individual client contacts who perished in the towers. In the aftermath a number of clients moved their business west to New Jerseyor north to Westchester, so the net loss is hard to calculate. In addition to the financial loss, those who track such things report that 1 of 5 New Yorkers who were in Manhattanthat day still, 10 years later, experience some form of residual negative effect (sleep disorder, irrational fear and anxieties, etc.). My own children experienced their own version of anxiety as I left for work every morning at 5:15am to head back to our 18th Street office.
As we remember those we lost, I would like to also recognize those who carried on in the time after the 9/11 attacks. Around the country, as the economy faltered everywhere, it took persistence and dedication to continue to work and recover. But for those of us in New York Cityit took much more. Every week there were reported threats to buildings, tunnels, places of worship and other public venues. Our local 8th Avenue post office was the one targeted for the anthrax scare causing us to open the mail wearing rubber gloves just to be safe. There were random “police actions” and occasional subway closings for no specified reason. So while it took resilience and determination from the rest ofAmerica to go to work every day, I salute my staff who needed real courage to travel into the city on the subway and trains every morning. I myself saw the smoke rising from the towers site every morning for months as I drove past the soldiers holding automatic weapons in full army fatigues at the Lincoln Tunnel.
So we remember the many first-responder heroes who rushed into the towers that day saving thousands of lives at the cost of their own. And we recall those at the Pentagon who died as well and, of course, the brave airline passengers who risked and then lost their own lives as they foiled the attempt to take a fourth plane into another target (presumably the White house or Capitol building). But while my heart goes out to the families of those who lost loved ones, my heartfelt appreciation goes out to my staff and the rest of the business community who persevered to rebuild the New York local business economy. By doing so we made the events of 9/11 a day of the tragic loss of life, but not one which permanently crippled the livelihoods of the rest of the city.
We will never forget the events of that day. And I will never forget the courage and fortitude of those with whom I work every day. You are heroes in your own right. Thank you for helping us defeat those who would have us fail.