I was working for Marsh and McClennan at the time and in Boston giving a presentation on business continuity management and crisis management. I will never forget the calls to our team outside the room about the first airplane strike. One of the senior people on our team interrupted the presentation with “A plane as just run into the World Trade Center in New York. This is not part of the exercise. This is real.”
The first plane hit our New York offices directly. I didn’t realize it at the time but one of my colleagues did. He was with us in Boston only because of screw ups that delayed the scheduling of this Boston presentation. Otherwise he would have been working in the office and killed in the attack.
There are far too many details to share in a forum like this. Marsh lost nearly 300 employees that day. It included hosts of people who came to New York from all over the country for training sessions and team meetings, including Bill Moskill who had the office next to mine in Cleveland and was in New York for a meeting of the Construction Industry Practice.
I wish I could say I saw nothing but people rising to the occasion but it wouldn’t be true. In addition to observing many people who tried to take advantage of the situation, I was surrounded by great people who simply broke under the enormous stress of such a harrowing event. I acted reprehensibly toward a colleague – completely insensitive to the likely loss of her friends while worried about recovering IT systems – which thankfully was brief and forgiven. I also was able to speak to wives of those lost who were misled by well intentioned but uninformed news outlets that their husbands were okay only to find out later that they were killed.
I suppose the biggest legacy for me having known so many who were killed is that none of those who perished thought that Tuesday would be there last day on earth. People often ask where God is in these things. The Bible is clear that sin has consequences both here and in eternity. God’s goodness is shown to all those who will listen in the form of His Son who took the punishment for our sin on Himself simply so we could live with him forever.
He doesn’t promise us to live long lives with painless deaths in our sleep. Expecting that is presuming upon His goodness and patience. Isaiah 55:6-7 says “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. You may not have tomorrow.