Hybrid Vigor: Vol 4 Issue 8 "Sixteen Years Ago"

Sadly, it would be all too easy amidst a destructive hurricane season, the most ominous global nuclear-weapons situation in decades, and a painfully divided nation (especially post-Charlottesville) to overlook the 16th anniversary of the worst attack ever on our country.

We will never forget.

It’s hard to believe—or maybe it isn’t—that it was 16 years ago when my pregnant wife called from across downtown to tell me a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.  I shouted it out on my trading desk, which buzzed for a moment, then fell silent.  I told my wife to stay calm—perhaps the exact wrong advice. Thankfully, she had driven to work that day and was able to get to her car just after the second crash, making it uptown to safety. The second crash was loud and palpable.  Everyone on the desk crowded into the one office with a television. We watched replays of the second crash. My boss said, simply, “that was no mistake.”

I remember watching the first collapse from Bowery and Park Row, pausing in horror on my walk uptown.  I ran as fast as my slow legs and slower loafers would take me, at least for a couple of blocks, until I saw the plume of smoke was not heading north. Then I just put my head down and walked until I reached my grandmother’s apartment in Greenwich Village.

Early on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, my wife and I got a message from her doctor’s office. The ultrasound looked good. We were going to have a healthy daughter. On the most awful of days, we received the best news imaginable.

I think today of those who perished, including the young man who grew up in the Westchester house my wife and I had purchased several years earlier. Including the brilliant student I taught in a Yale seminar. Including the first person who ever offered me a job on Wall Street.

They say that despite the headlines, despite the preponderance of scary factoids, despite the flow of frightening information, the world is safer than ever. Or something like that. They may well be right. But today, we remember those who died on one of the most unsafe of days.  In honor of their memory, let us take nothing for granted, not next year, not next week, not tomorrow.

(This is the cover letter for the subscription-based weekly Hillside's Hybrid Vigor newsletter. For a complete copy, please contact John Anderson at + 1 (646) 712-9289 x 107).