Twenty years ago, our world changed forever as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon left a permanent scar on us all. For many, the memories of that day and the aftermath remain fresh and deeply painful, and the long-term impact continues to reverberate around the globe in ways large and small.
While the attacks represented the worst of humankind, we also saw the very best of ourselves. A group of airline passengers battled terrorists flying a hijacked jet toward the U.S. Capitol, sacrificing themselves in a field in Shanksville, PA, and saving many lives in Washington, DC. First responders defied human instinct by charging into the most dangerous situations imaginable. Rescue workers and volunteers dug through twisted steel and smoking ruins to search for victims. And nurses and doctors treated the injured even though too many of them waited in vain at hospitals for survivors who never arrived. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, citizens around the world declared themselves honorary Americans and donated supplies, raised money and offered prayers during those darkest hours.
We vowed then to “never forget,” and to this day, we continue to honor and remember the nearly 3,000 men and women whose lives were cut short. There are more stories than I can ever mention, but history has shown in the last two decades that terrorists who hoped to shatter our nation’s sense of identity and destroy our way of life succeeded only in strengthening our resolve.
Despite DTCC’s location in the heart of New York’s financial district, we are fortunate not to have lost any members of our family on Sept. 11. But many of us know at least one person—and often, more than that—who never returned home. For those who worked at DTCC, our sense of duty and purpose were on full display throughout the crisis. You’ve often heard me say that our firm does its best work when the industry needs us most. We’ve proven that many times over our nearly half-century history, but it was especially true on the day of the attacks and in the weeks that followed.
One of the most important lessons I learned from Sept. 11 is that, in the most difficult times, we have a responsibility as global citizens to redouble efforts to work together to make our world more safe and secure for future generations.
As the towers fell and fires burned in lower Manhattan, our people maintained their focus amid the chaos and continued to seamlessly do their jobs, ensuring that the global markets remained safe and stable and providing a critical, solid foundation. When the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq reopened on Sept. 17, it was hailed as a bold declaration to the world that the United States remained strong, proud and free, and that despite the wounds, we would rebuild and recover. That seminal moment in our nation’s history was possible because DTCC remained open on Sept. 11 and the days that followed to process, clear and settle hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions.
As we’ve seen from recent events and humanitarian crises, our world continues to be turbulent and sometimes frightening. But one of the most important lessons I learned from Sept. 11 is that, in the most difficult times, we have a responsibility as global citizens to redouble efforts to work together to make our world more safe and secure for future generations. It is a mission that does not recognize geographic boundaries or borders and we all must play a part.
I know each of us will observe this anniversary with the respect and solemnity it deserves—remembering the fallen, celebrating their lives and thinking about those who have carried on without their loved ones. I encourage you to take a moment of silence today to in their memory. It was a lifetime ago and it is just yesterday. We will never forget.