Flashback from 9/11

September 11, 2014

In the days that followed 9/11 back in 2001 I was glued to my couch & TV in Southern Florida, horrified, sad, stunned -- the list of words could go on forever. So many heartbreaking stories of losses, such disturbing images of people flying down the twin many tears, and this bottomless feeling of utter disbelief. This cannot be happening.

One of the stories that caught my attention and had me shedding lots and lots of tears was that of a company named Cantor Fitzgerald. The company's corporate headquarters was in One World Trade Center, on the 101th - 105th floors, which was two (to six) floors above where the first plane hit. The CEO of the company, Howard Lutnick, was late for work that morning because it was his son's first day at the kindergarten, and Lutnick was taking him in that morning. Two thirds of Cantor Fitzgerald's WTC staff died that morning; 658 people -- one of them Howard Lutnick's brother. I saw the ABC interview - maybe I saw others too, and I was bawling my eyes out with him....many things touched me during those weeks and months, and many I have forgotten -- but this somehow touched me particularly and for some reason this year it came rushing back. During those weeks after the attacks in 2001 I even wrote Lutnick a letter, trying in some very lame way to offer my condolences to him and the rest of his employees, their families....I know it sounds kind of silly, but, you know....compassion can't be a bad thing. I remember thinking also that if I'd had the chance, I would have taken couple of weeks off work and fly to New York to do some voluntary work...but, alas, it was not possible.

The most amazing thing was that I actually received a letter back from Cantor Fitzgerald some weeks later. It was signed by Howard Lutnick, but I have no way of knowing whether he wrote it himself; I wouldn't be surprised if he did -- he seems like an unusual person. Unusually kind. It was a lovely, lovely letter and I still have it.

Today, 13 years later, Cantor Fitzgerald and Howard Lutnick have come a long way. They have created countless charities in the U.S. with the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund which obviously started with the intention to gather money and help people who lost their loved ones and so much more on 9/11, but these charities have expanded widely: there's the Hurricane Sandy Relief, there's the Oklahoma Tornado Relief...the annual Charity Day Relief on each September 11th when Cantor Fitzgerald and its partners hold a Global Charity Day event and pledge 100 percent of the day’s revenue to charity - they've raised (on this charity alone) over 101 million dollars since 2005.

What a way to turn tragedy into something good. 

And it all still feels so very raw, like it happened yesterday :(


  1. How wonderful that you were able to make a personal connection to someone about their losses (and YES, your letter DID matter to them......I'm sure it was read more than once)........and now you've been able to see them flourish after 2001. Thanks for letting us in on this story about Cantor Fitzgerald............Ginny

    1. Thanks is a special memory to me for sure, and I can only hope my own letter made a small difference to them.