How 9/11 Changed My Life
I’m going to briefly explore this subject for the first time ever by way of this written space. I want to preface this by acknowledging first and foremost the victims who died that day along with their surviving families and so many others who would later die either from wounds suffered that day, or from health afflictions that developed in many during the recovery and cleanup. My prayers are going out to all. The closer to ground zero you get, the more gut wrenching and terrible the stories and life changes are. I am actually fortunate to be 30 miles from ground zero.
On that beautiful morning, I had just returned to my desk from an 8:30 broadcast on WBBR and had noticed the breaking news reports of a plane crash at the Twin Towers at 8:46. At first it had appeared as if it were a small plane crash. Then as reports trickled in and more t.v. news copters arrived on the scene it was quite apparent that it was a large scale jet crash and we know the rest of the story of the second plane. As the financial markets reporter for Bloomberg I dashed my way up to the main studio as futures went from being flat on word of the first crash to a cliff dive on the second attack. The markets have always been effective in reacting to news.
To make a long story short, as that fateful morning unfolded, I and my colleagues did what we were supposed to do (not that we were heroes) – we confidently did our reporting. One of our on air staff was on the radio that day, knowing his brother was in that wreckage and never to be seen again. That was incredible and will always be an indelibly etched feature in my mind when I think about 9/11.
One little annoying feature of that morning was Mike Bloomberg. Back on this day in 2001 his big primary day to
buywin the democratic nod for NYC Mayoral candidate was cancelled due to the horrific event. He was cranky. Actually, we were all cranky that morning. I had said on the air that the CEO of Cantor (a big bond trading firm) had “escaped death” by bringing his son to school that day – otherwise that executive would have been trapped in the building with the rest of the Cantor staff who were killed that morning. Bloomberg contended and howled that the Cantor CEO didn’t escape like others in the building who escaped the collapse by the skin of their teeth by rushing down the stairs. True, technically, but in a sense whether it’s fate, or God’s will, or some random happening (whatever it is you believe) I feel that the Cantor CEO did indeed avoid what would have been fatal circumstances, all because he took his kid to school – an escape of a different kind, but an escape none the less.
Many of my friends who I interviewed in the financial community were based at the World Trade Center. Some were strangely late that day and missed receiving their final reward. Others were unfortunately on time and at work. There was one analyst who we interviewed that morning who could have come up to our studio at Park & 59th, but he opted to use his firm’s set at the WTC to be interviewed. He would have lived if he had joined us in Mid-town, but instead he died downtown.
But, I digress on people like Bloomberg. Although in Bloomberg’s case (whether he would admit or not), he was on track to an uncertain outcome in the November, 2001 elections until 9/11. Bloomberg should do a piece on how 9/11 changed his life. Rudy Giuliani who was very unpopular before 9/11 became America’s mayor overnight and deservedly so. There was more to Giuliani than a failed marriage, or so we found out. Giuliani’s endorsement would have meant nothing for Bloomberg if 9/11 was just another peaceful day, but the stratospheric rise in Giuliani’s popularity gave Bloomberg an endorsement he sorely needed and the boost he needed to win and be sworn in as mayor months later on New Year’s eve as I recall.
I’ll get to the point on how 9/11 changed my life: After that horrid day, I just kept working. Of course, I was upset like everyone else, but I internalized it and reasoned I had nothing to complain about since I was alive and many blocks from the WTC. The human body still has its own way of dealing with inputs that come from the outside such as an unusual event like 9/11. About 3 weeks later, I developed the shingles. I didn’t miss work then, as the financial markets gyrated, I certainly didn’t want to stay home. The shingles on my back persisted, so the doctor gave me some sort of horse pills. I took the meds. A few days later, my center field of vision went completely black. I could only see peripherally. Then, not too long after that my kidneys failed which eventually led to a kidney transplant, flatlining on the operating table and then even more health problems.
But as I say, I’m still here – albeit a bit hobbled and weak. I do believe the stress of that 9/11 period led to a cascading of health problems, but I am one of the fortunate ones. I am not complaining, but merely pointing out how a single event can have life changing implications even if one is on the periphery.
I live a few miles away from a major train station on the Port Jervis line that shuttles many to NYC each day, sometimes in less than 30 minutes when all the signals are working properly. One of the greatest negative impressions from 9/11 was not only the death and wreckage at all three attack sites (PA and DC included), but in my own back yard. For a few weeks after 9/11 so many empty cars remained parked at the train parking lot – the drivers never returned. Eventually, family members picked up the cars, but it was a sad sight to see those empty cars. Everyone in this community knows someone who lost someone that day. A number of my daughter’s fellow kindergartners lost a mommy, or a daddy that day 11 years ago. Now those little children are 16 year olds. They are close to standing on their own as full fledged legal adults and soon to be off to college, or whatever path they choose. Some say the terrorists won on 9/11 in a variety of ways (true in many ways), but I see the young adults in our community, especially those who lost a parent, as symbolically standing in surly defiance of those terrorists even if they don’t realize it. The next generation lives on and hopefully they will learn the lessons of their recent pasts and go on to make this world a better place!
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Author Jim Kingsland
Market commentator with focus on Gold and Silver after long broadcast career at FNN, Bloomberg, and Fox. #RandomHouse published author on PMs. Jim has also been involved in projects for CAC and Coinplex.
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