I turned on the TV and CNN and was hoping that these hackers were damn good and had hacked into CNN also, but after switching to FOX News, ABC, TBS, and other stations, I realized that every channel was carrying the tragedy of 9/11.
When I awoke, and accepted that it was real, the first thing I did was wake Deanna and informed her of what had happened. We were sickened by what we were witnessing and it was personal as we worked in that building for almost a year. Deanna and a few other of my employees at the time spent nine months living in the Marriott World Trade Center while we were working on a project for Deutsche Bank. We had friends and colleagues at Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley - Dean Witter (MSDW), and other financial institutions. We knew many contractors from KPMG and BearingPoint among others who would possibly have been at client sites that day.
|The way the skyline will always be in my eyes|
By the time we were awake, I was able to check on the first person who came to mind and that was Dan Heldridge at MSDW. MSDW had established a great system to check status on their employees and I was so relieved to have the assurance and confirmation the "Dan had left the building!" I was able to get verification of a few others right away, but many were not in a position to respond, nor did their company have as good a system as MSDW did. It took a week before the last person I was inquiring about was able to confirm she was still alive. Her name is Irena Korateeva and she was a Russian KPMG employee working in New York. She lost her laptop in the tragedy, but fortunately escaped the building and did not suffer the fate of her laptop. It was only after she got a new laptop that she was able to respond and confirm her safety.
We were relieved that we did not lose a single colleague or friend. Others were not as lucky. Thousands died and many more lost friends and colleagues. One of my friends had 14 people he was close to who lost their life that day.
I remember the strong drive I had to 'defend' my country and I thought about going back to the US, joining the CIA (assuming they would have me) or some other organization where I could help to contribute and defend. The real heroes that day where the calm politicians, the fire and police and other volunteers and able bodied individuals who risked their lives to save the lives of others. I was traumatized for several weeks and could not get the event out of my mind. Then my cousin Tom sent me an email from someone who had escaped from the Marriott World Trade Center. We relived the entire experience having been so familiar with the hotel and the layout of the surrounding buildings, streets and tunnels.
I have never forgot and frankly find it difficult, if not impossible, to forgive. I don't blame religious groups, ethnic groups or any other segment of the population. I blame senseless and inhumane terrorists. I pray for them and try to forgive them, but frankly, that is a big ask.
I have been to the top of the World Trade Center to view the great city of New York, drank beer with friends in the bar at the top of the World Trade Center, have worked for clients there and know many who spent most of their adult life in one of the buildings. I will never, ever forget!
Tears are flowing down my cheeks as I write this. I thank all the people who defend our freedom and our countries, defend our liberties and way of life. Since 9/11, I am more conscientious and thankful for those in the armed forces, those who are civil servants, the police and fireman, and all who are willing to sacrifice their lives for others and for our freedom. God Bless them beyond belief!
No, this post has nothing to do with wine - it has to do with things far more important than wine. If you feel cheated, be comforted that I am drinking some of the leftover 2009 Hugel Alsace Riesling from the other evening as I write this.
But for today, remember our heroes, and thank God for their willingness to serve and defend. We can always drink wine later.
I dedicate this post to Dan Helridge, Irena Korateeva, all the others in between, all those who died in the tragedy and all those who served and/or died saving and defending the lives of others.