The 9/11 terrorist attacks had a profound impact on virtually everyone who watched that tragic day unfold. Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost, the United States' financial and political capitals were temporarily brought to their knees and the world rallied its support while bracing for what would prove to be an unprecedented decade of conflict. The emotions of that day were a cocktail of shock, fear and anger, and the hangover lasted months, and for some, years. For many of us, the images of airplanes slamming into the World Trade Center, the unimaginable collapse of the Twin Towers and terrified people covered in ash fleeing for their lives will be seared in our memories forever.
In hindsight, one of the most noteworthy newspaper headlines following the attacks came not from an American paper but a French one -- on Sept. 12, 2001, the headline in Le Monde read "Nous sommes tous Américains" or "We are all Americans." A decade later, it serves as an unlikely reminder of how Americans themselves felt that fateful day, and ironically, represents perhaps the one positive emotion to come out of the tragedy that many on the sidelines of a deeply divided populace wish we could feel again today.
To attempt to sum up the deeply personal emotions of 9/11 in one fell swoop would be silly. But from its inception, our Board of Directors has tried to foster a thoughtful dialogue about a range of issues from a range of perspectives -- to help you, our readers, reflect as well. On a day of reflection around the world, we can think of no better group to help start the conversation.
Bob ParsonsFounder and CEO, The Go Daddy Group
"I think about how important to our safety and well being are all the men and women who faithfully serve our country. I also think about all the innocent victims, the firefighters and police officers who lost their lives on 9/11. God bless them. One thing for certain, I'll always remember 9/11."
Clint GreenleafFounder and CEO, Greenleaf Book Group
"I remember that some really, really bad people hated us and our way of life so much they killed 3,000 innocent men, women and children. It is a dangerous world and ignoring that there is evil is foolish. I also remember and think fondly of the short period of time when no one was political, partisan or politically correct -- we were just Americans."
Steve StraussColumnist and Author of The Small Business Bible
"September 11, 2001, was my daughter Sydney’s eighth birthday. Though we live on the west coast, far from the tragic events of that day, we were nonetheless affected by it (as all were, of course). But helping a little girl understand what happened that day, and why, has been an ongoing project. I am happy to report that with Sydney about to turn 18 and head off to college, she now says that sharing her birthday with such an event has made her a better person –- more compassionate, more thoughtful about the world and better able to understand that, as she said at the time, 'Bad things can happen, but good things happen too.' Amidst our collective remembering of that sad day, I hope we all can reclaim some of the humanity that my sweet girl exemplifies."
Rob AdamsDirector, Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas
"When I look back on that day, I realize how little we knew about how much the world as we knew it would change. From the economy, to homeland security, to military conflicts, to the Arab spring, the world is a much different place a decade later."
Lexy FunkCo-Founder and CEO, Brooklyn Industries
"The morning was very crisp with crystal clear skies. As I walked to work in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I saw the second tower being hit by the plane and collapsing in on itself. I went into our office in the warehouse and tried calling everyone, people who were coming in to work in the store, my partner, my family -- but the phones were all jammed. Several hours later, we decided to open the one store we had at the time on North 7th and Bedford, despite all the chaos. Nobody else wanted to come to work so it was just Vahap (my partner and husband), myself and our 16-month-old son. We opened the store because we had to continue, we needed the money and it seemed like the right thing to do. The day and the sales were strangely brisk. An acquaintance of mine came in with no shoes, no wallet and dirty clothes. She had walked all the way from the World Trade Center over the Williamsburg Bridge and wandered into our store. We gave her clothes and socks. The day and the months afterwards were very sad. "
Rieva LesonskyFounder and CEO, GrowBiz Media
"I can still taste the anger, fear and sense of helplessness 10 years later. I woke up in a San Francisco hotel room to the picture on the Today show of the World Trade Center with a hole in its side, and a very puzzled Matt Lauer and Katie Couric. My first thought was, "That’s New York, that’s my home." I’ve been gone 33 years, but I’ll always be a New Yorker. I called my mother to get a status update on all my relatives.
"I was on the phone with my brother when the towers came down. He witnessed it from a rooftop across the river in New Jersey. All I could think about was the countless times I’d been in those buildings, how I watched them being built and I couldn’t stop dwelling on the very real evils I was seeing for the first time in my life.
"And unbelievably, today, after all the death and destruction, I don’t think we’re any wiser. How devastatingly sad."
Phil TownInvestor and Author of Rule #1 And Payback Time
"I think it reminds me how precious life is and how we just never know. It reminds me not to waste a day on crap that isn't significant. It reminds me to tell my wife and children every day that I love them and to try to show it, not just say it. And it reminds me to thank those special people who put their lives on the line every day to destroy the bastards that did this so that they can't do it again."