Dear Mr. President,
On this 9/11 Day of Remembrance it is all too easy to look back, remember where you were and what you were doing on that fateful morning… but what does it accomplish moving forward, and how does it help us heal?
I was 17 when JFK was assassinated… I’m 65 now and I remember in great detail all of the above including exactly how I felt. Remembering and reliving these events doesn’t change them, and it doesn’t even make us feel any better as time passes. Yes, we feel more appreciative that we are still alive and more grateful for all we have, while others lost their lives or their loved ones.
Instead, today I’d like to focus on the story of an amazing CEO and the financial services firm of Cantor Fitzgerald that refused to be defeated in spite of the catastrophic loss of 658 out of 960 employees. Occupying the 101st and 105th floors of the north tower, no employees in the offices at the time survived – whole divisions were completely decimated. CEO Howard Lutnick’s brother Gary, and his best friend and CFO Doug Gardner, were among the dead. Lutnick was delayed getting to work that morning because he needed to take his son to his first day of Kindergarten. Others that survived were late getting to the office or away on a scheduled day trip.
Although there were whole divisions that could not be rebuilt, the employees that remained, returned to work, even though family members and friends were suddenly gone, and they had barely begun the grieving process. Within days they were back online with a new purpose and a new determination… to take care of the families of those employees lost on 9/11.
Even while struggling to rebuild the company – 25% of Cantors profits, were set aside for five years to be distributed to the families, which ultimately amounted to over $180 million dollars. Cantor kept that promise, distributing company profits to the families and paying for their health care for the last 10 years. “The best way to show someone you love them is to care for the people they love,” said Lutnick.
“We all had to commit to doing something different. It changed our outlook about what was important about business,” Lutnick said.
The attacks on the Twin Towers, “just created sort of that bang of what type of human being are you right here, right now,” said Lutnick. “I didn’t think there was a choice, either we take care of our friends’ families, or I’m not a human being.”
While we’ll never forget that horrific day, it’s time to move forward, it’s time for Americans to make a choice… do we continue to wage war against our perceived enemies, or do we decide what kind of America we want, right here, right now.
Your Gadfly Granny