Like December 7th, September 11th, 2001 was a date that was burnt into our nation’s history. For the current generation of Americans who personally experienced 9/11 most will remember where they were and what they were doing that morning when the World Trade Center twin towers collapsed.
I was at my mother’s funeral that morning so news of the terrorist attack was surreal. For me the world turned upside down. I was missing the markets that day and then markets shut down so I missed nothing. I remember where I was when – the room and my place in it, when my grade school teacher told the class that JFK was assassinated and my anger on the schoolground at recess. For some events, I don’t remember the date but just my response. The news network made an impression on me as a young kid when they reported that ‘Nixon has ordered the bombing of Cambodia!’ That was news that I, for some reason ran outside to excitedly tell my dad and uncle who were working on a piece of farm equipment telling them that, “We were going to war!” Both were veterans, so neither of them shared my reaction, both looking solemn. They understood things that I didn’t.
There are only a few events that stick with us with that much impact. Most have never come close to personally experiencing anything historical such as occurred in NYC 9/11. We all however, react to it. We made the decision following the 9/11 attack, to go through with a December 2001 planned trip to Brazil – our first of what became many. Many others had cancelled, so it was a small group. Again, last summer, our trip to Europe followed the terrorist attack in Nice, France and again the flight to Paris was near empty as many Americans responded with caution or fear. Given the flight was near empty I got bumped up to business class so sometimes not being fearful does have its benefits.
FDNY Chief Richard Picciotto not only lived 9/11 – he survived it, which seems above all odds or likelihood after being on the 35th floor of one of the towers that literally collapsed around him. At the end of the day on 9/11 there were 400 missing fireman/first responders and Richard was one of them. 57 were later found to have survived and Richard was one of those too after a harrowing experience. 343 fireman who had rushed into those buildings to save others were taken from us that day by the terrorists who struck the towers. I have felt drawn to ground zero as one of the momentous events in my life.
I believe that I have been to the 9/11 memorial five times on trips to NYC. Each was “special” – an odd word maybe – but all left an impression. I was there when they were just finishing clearing the site, there to see the memorial first open. I have described the memorial water fall ringed by the names of those lost as the best depiction of eternity, the flow of time that I can imagine – I remember watching a NYC police official give a US Marine Corp Colonel a personal tour so that he could see what he was fighting for – I remember the tour we took that was given by someone who was there that day sharing their personal experience – and finally my last visit after the new underground memorial center was opened. I was struck then by the number of foreign visitors as little English was being spoken in the waiting line. There were very respectful. I was encouraged that the world cared about what happened there that day and that Americans are not alone with friends in this world.
I decided that I wanted to bring a piece of 9/11 home to northwest Iowa and that the way that I could do that was to invite Richard Picciotto to tell his story first hand to CommStock clients and subscribers. That was a way that I could help him spread the message in a way that I know would be appreciated.
Richard was the highest ranking FDNY Chief in the building that survived the collapse. He ordered the evacuation of the North Tower after the South Tower fell not knowing for sure what had happened, but operating off of instinct. Had he not done so, many more would not have survived. He was one of the last down from upper floors but did not make it out of the building before it collapsed. He will share his harrowing experience of faith and luck that he could walk away from such a thing. That was only after he and several accompanying him were able to escape something, that when one sees the destruction, no one would have thought possible.
God spared Richard for a reason and I believe that one of the reasons was so that he could be there with us this Saturday, September 16th at our customer appreciation event at the 100th anniversary of the Clay County Fair, in Spencer, Iowa, to share his story and listen to ours. He says that when he tells his experience that people share where they were and what they were doing that day which interconnected us all as Americans and he appreciates that. We can also show that we appreciate the bravery of the first responders who risk their lives “calling it their jobs.” We have also invited many of our local firefighters to join us that day.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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