On this solemn day, I wanted to republish what I wrote on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Here it is:
Today the entire nation will be transfixed on the tenth anniversary of the vicious attacks on the United States. And rightly so, as the events of that day permanently altered the history and trajectory of our nation.
I just did a search of my email archives for anything written that day, and I was surprised to actually find some items. I was, on that morning, in front of my screen at home making sure – as I always did – that all the systems were running smoothly at my company, Prophet.net
Since I’ve always been somewhat of a news junkie, it wasn’t long before I was plugged in to the various reports happening. It thus came as no surprise to me that our quote systems weren’t updating, because the markets weren’t open.
I sent out the following email to the dozen or so employees at the firm:
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 7:25 AM
Subject: Prophet CLOSED today due to attack on U.S.
As you surely know by now, the United States suffered what appears to be a widespread and well-orchestrated terrorist attack, which is still unfolding as I am typing this. Today, Tuesday, Prophet will be closed. I am doing this for several reasons:
+ The stock market is closed
+ It will obviously be very quiet today
+ Out of respect for what the country has suffered, including the unknown
dead and injured
I’ll be in touch.
A little after I sent this email, my chief engineer Alex – – whose English was extremely limited – – wrote me the following.
From: “Alex Dobrovolskiy” <email@example.com>
To: “Tim Knight” <Tim@ProphetFinance.com>
Subject: Re: Prophet CLOSED today due to attack on U.S.
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:30:49 -0700
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4807.1700
It’s terrible. It seems that amount of victims will be huge.As you close today Prophet I will go to home now. If it will necessary I will be accessible through YM or phone. It’s big tragedy for american people. I even can’t tell something about this. These words aren’t from dictionary because I didn’t learn them. It’s terrible.
His response is, upon reflection, striking in two respects. First, in spite of his limited English, Alex’s big heart showed through quite clearly in his words. Second, only fourteen months after he wrote this, he himself would be tragically killed as I wrote about at length in an earlier post.
While all this was happening, I walked to the other side of the house to wake my sleeping wife who was with our baby son in bed. I quickly told her what had happened, turned on the television, and we both watched as the first tower collapsed at that very moment. The broadcaster said, “There are no words….….”.
And – in what probably were the most prescient six words that ever crossed my lips – – a person who makes it his business to try to anticipate what is going to happen in the future, I turned away from the television screen and said to my wife, “This is going to change everything.”
And so it has. We are a nation that has lost a staggering amount of blood and treasure, as the cliche goes, and is on what I believe is an irreversible path to ruin (and rebirth).
I cannot imagine the terror of being on board those hijacked planes. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in an airplane filled with strangers with whom I suddenly shared the deepest of bonds and shared fates. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the people in the first tower to look out the window and see a huge jet heading straight for them. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been a survivor in the burning tower and decide the best choice would be to leap to my death instead of being burned alive.
Bush’s kindly homage to the “religion of peace” that night turned my stomach. I was mad. Mad as hell. And I wanted my President to be mad too. I went out of my mind for that next week, turning into a town crazy, riding to and from work dressed in red, white, and blue with flags fluttering all around me. It’s unfortunate that fury was what brought out the patriot in me, but God damn it, I was seething.
Ten years have passed, and while I still feel a loyalty to the ideals that built this nation, I don’t feel that sense of patriotic pride that I did back then, for reasons that regular readers can probably surmise. I believe in human freedom, liberty, and self-expression more than anything else, and I would hope that the United States, in whatever new form it ultimately takes, embraces these ideals as it once did.
I have never suffered the death of any human close to me, so I cannot pretend to empathize with what the survivors endured. But I join the rest of the nation today in reflecting upon that day and wishing God’s good grace on our collective future. Be well, and know that any given day may well be your last, so try to make the most of it.