It still moves

September 8th, 2011

This column is dedicated to two men who instilled important ideals in me. With the anniversary of 9/11 around the corner, two of those ideals are front and center in my mind.

The first is how incredibly proud I am to be American. Most of us have our roots in different countries, celebrating our heritage as being Irish, Italian, German, Swedish, etc. But, in truth, we are American, first and foremost. To think of what has been suffered so that we may live the lives we do as Americans, causes one to stand in awe.

The second is resiliency. They taught me to take experiences that were difficult to swallow with a grain of salt and to move on. To grin and bear it.

During these past 10 years since Mr. Kerwin told my sixth grade social studies class that both Twin Towers had been destroyed, a lot has changed, for better and for worse. Yet we as Americans have survived. America has survived. We still have a future to look forward to.

We have survived because of that trait which makes us distinctly American: resiliency.

Sept. 11 was not the first of America’s tragedies; we’ve even seen worse.

Ripples still remain from the Civil War, where a little over 500,000 people were killed, and, even more disturbingly, we did it to ourselves. Fortunately, we survived that and we stand on firmer ground because of it.

It’s difficult to stomach the thought of the storming of Normandy. You can imagine Dwight Eisenhower ordering Operation Overlord and saying, “We’ll be able to get over this.” Almost 40,000 American soldiers died during that battle, 20 times that of Sept. 11.

The resilient spirit of America can also be found in unlikely places.

In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, there was a story about an investment banking firm, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods Inc., that lost 67 of their 171 employees on Sept. 11, including the CEO’s son who was interning at their headquarters on the 88th and 89th floors of the south tower.

Today, they nearly tripled their highest pre-2001 revenue. The employees interviewed say they try not to talk about what happened to their co-workers 10 years ago. “There’s an appropriate time and place to remember,” said an employee who’s father died while working for KBW. In the resilient American spirit, KBW has taken their tragedy with a grain of salt and survived.

Sept. 11 was one of those “everyone remembers where they were” moments. Everyone has a story of how they found out, what they felt, and how strong our response was to it. We’re still responding to it. Osama bin Laden was killed last May. We still have a strong presence in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The question becomes, what will be the breaking point? Will there be a time when we as American’s just can’t endure it? No one knows, but we can look back on how we’ve dealt with tragedy and be proud of what we’ve pulled through so far.

For now, Fred and Chuck would be glad to know that it still moves.