I was on the 85th floor of the World Trade Center building in New York this morning — that’s 1 World Trade Center, aka The Freedom Tower. The views of Manhattan, New Jersey, the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the Hudson and the East rivers were fabulous on a sunny, mostly blue sky on Aug. 16, 2016.
To get to the 85th floor, I had to change elevators on the 64th floor, moving through the Sky Lobby. It was impossible to not think of the original World Trade Center, whose towers also had sky lobbies and high floors and pedestrian plazas.
Fifteen years ago this September 11, the sky was a cloud-free, beautiful deep blue; every time I see such a sky, I think of that day, and think of it as a mournful canopy.
In our annual editorial roundtable with the leaders of our (26th annual) Broker-Dealers of the Year, I took time out during our video interviews with each leader to ask what they remembered about that day. Their responses were thoughtful, heartfelt and, dare I say, almost reverent as they recalled the terror of that day and the people who died in the Trade Center and other attacks. They said that just as most Americans of a certain age vividly recall where they were and what they were doing on the day John F. Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, they’ll always remember Sept. 11, 2001. While none happened to be in New York City that day, all had personal reminiscences. One — Lon Dolber — recalled that his firm’s first day of operations was precisely Sept. 11, 2001, when the stock market closed, when the city emptied and too many families lost loved ones.
Each of the presidents mourned in his own way, and like the country and the American financial system that was the symbolic target that day, they recovered while never forgetting.
At a time when our nation seems more polarized than ever, considering the tone of the presidential campaign, our lingering and all too often explosive racial divide and concerns that our capitalist guiding star leaves too many of our fellow citizens without direction or hope, it’s good to remember how our divisions melted away on September 11 and the days after.
It’s good to remember, too, I think, that despite all our economic and business and social problems, this country remains, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the last best hope of earth.” Here’s the entire sentence from Lincoln’s 1862 speech to Congress, forerunner of what we call today the president’s annual State of the Union address, that precedes that well-known phrase.
“In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.“
We recall our own modest contribution to that post-9/11 resolve and recovery on page 5 of this issue of Investment Advisor; we preserve the memory of those who perished in the attacks and those who sacrificed life and limb to redress how we were wronged; and we invite you to share your own memories of that day on ThinkAdvisor.com.