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In Memoriam - 911

 

 

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September 11, 2001 - by Martha Harris Myron, originally published in the Royal Gazette, Bermuda

 

 

In Memoriam -  A Sense of Community in a Time of Sorrow.

Just the thought of it, brought the reality right to our home.

The couple gathering extreme courage together, holding hands as they leapt from the hundred-story building, leaving their workplace, their families, and their lives anonymously linked forever to this terrible day in history.

Not many tragedies in recent memory have come so close to us all, even in Bermuda. None of us are immune to tragedy, although it is harder to relate to remote global scale events simply because the people involved are not your friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers.

As the buildings that day disintegrated, the eerie parallels of global tragedies were so conspicuously correlated. We have seen them before, just not on such a personal level. Grieving relatives with cell phones in long lines at hospitals and morgues; the bridges and highways out of New York devoid of cars and commuting noise, full instead of those on foot, silently walking home. Their faces are tense with anxiety; their images now juxtaposed with all too common global media visages: mothers in Argentina looking for their families; long lines of refugees in various third world countries fleeing, blank-faced, from their destroyed homes.

The stories from that day of incredible luck and disastrous misfortune are many. These stories of valiant courage and pain-filled sadness have been told, but in the telling again, one remembers that it is so important to cherish the memories of those lost. One extended family member worked at the World Trade Center. His building evacuated minutes before the second plane struck. Only then did he realize that many of his friends and co-workers above the area of truncation were gone. He survived, but like countless others, could not even retreat to the safety of home to grieve for those gone. All public transportation had ceased; his access cut off out of the city; his car crushed in the smoldering debris.

It was soon learned that whole neighborhoods where many finance and investment professionals lived were missing people. Mommys and Daddies who went to work that Tuesday morning, nine years ago, just never came home. Their survivors left to grapple with shock and the enormous unfairness of it all.

Yet, even in the face of such adversity, commerce had to be preserved. History has demonstrated that the New York finance center, only lapsed briefly. One week later, between the tears, anguish, and the loss of incalculable intellectual capital, the US capital market complex resumed its role in global investment finance. How were these firms, the traders, market makers, investment managers, and support personnel able to respond to this resumption of normalcy so soon? Because they had to. Corporate America endured.

These were not mercenary actions. Above all, and in spite of unspeakable tragedy, orderly calm financial markets must be maintained. Our global community today is so interdependent on each other that actions in one continent can cause significant reactions elsewhere. Additionally, our world functions on the free flow of cash. Major nations and their monetary centers provided support by assuring that liquidity was available in the markets that were open, while the United States Federal Reserve acted immediately to increased money supply in the United States, even to trucking additional cash to banks.

We consider what took place in the weeks and months afterwards for all those survivors. After the terribly sad good-byes are said, reality sets in. Life had to go on, money had to be found to buy essentials, food, diapers, transportation, and medicine. Children went back to school. Those who lost partners had to cope with a one-income family. Finances were reviewed; insurance claims sorted out; employment had to be resumed; a semblance of normality and structure gradually returned.

Individuals looked to their families and community for the emotional and practical support that has always been provided in times of trouble. They needed their families and their community to help them bear this overwhelming burden.

Bermuda lost as well. Rhonda Tankard and Boyd Gatton were both employed by companies based in the World Trade Center. They, too, went to work that day in New York, away from our home country seeking to gain valuable experience and advance professionally, never to return. Many insurance-related professionals affiliated with exempt companies here on island were also lost. They were just doing their jobs in a normal day. We remember them all.

We also lost forever a sense of security and complacency.

I do not think that I was the only one that counted how many days the airspace and sea access into the United States was blocked. No sea or air traffic into or out of our island. Period.

 

We need to remember this scary uncertainty, when we think we don’t need anyone but ourselves to drive our economy.

America is a great nation. We derive enormous benefits from our proximity, commerce, guest workers, tourists, investments and support. We need to remember this as well.

Life can be temporary and fleeting. On this day of memoriam, think of reaching out to your family. If you have been on the “outs”, for whatever reason, use this time to mend fences, get back on the “ins” with your family. You need them and they need you. Do something for someone today, extra and unasked and un-noticed. Do this for your own soul.

More than ever before, we should be grateful for what we do have. If you have had hard thoughts and hard words about the way things are going, hold them back for now. This is time for community building.

Let’s take inspiration from the resilience of the citizens of New York, absolutely determined to carry on. And they did.

It is time for positive change.

Martha Harris Myron

 

 

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