On This 9/11

I woke up early this morning and am surprised to find that it’s 9/11.

I won’t ever forget that day 12 years ago. It was a beautiful fall morning with bright-blue skies. I had just finished a breakfast meeting and there was a TV nearby. There were images of a burning building in NYC. I looked at it for a few seconds and thought what everyone else did: “An accident.”

When I arrived at the office, people started to talk to each other about “a second crash.” Everything changed from there.

I started to call my b-school friends who were based in World Trade. I started to call portfolio companies in NYC. Nothing. The lines were jammed.

One of my colleagues was at Logan airport that morning. We were highly anxious that he was on one of the planes. It turned out that his flight was not one of the ones hijacked, but he had departed from a gate one over from a plane that was. He later wondered if he walked by the hijackers.

In the office, we tried to do work, but we gave up.

That night, the roar of F-15 patrols was continuous. It was very hard to fall asleep.

In the ensuing weeks, everyone felt a need to do something. My business school section donated a good-sized amount to the surviving families of NYC first responders. Two friends made dramatic career switches.

And, for a long while, it was a time of uncertainty. For a long time, The New York Times published pictures and stories about the 9/11 victims, called “Portraits of Grief.” The journalists doggedly tracked down family members and friends to profile each person. It must have been a daunting labor of love.

Today, my heart is at Ground Zero in NYC.

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