Pete Hamann, Sedgwick SVP of business development, Stamford, Connecticut
Fifteen years; how can time have passed so quickly? When I close my eyes, I am immediately transported back to that day and its amazingly crystal-clear blue sky. I am one of the many 9/11 “what if” stories.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I made my way into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan for a meeting at the Aon offices with some colleagues from Marsh on a co-brokered account. Sedgwick was intricately connected to Marsh at that time, so it was not uncommon for me to be in the World Trade Center. Usually, I went to the Marsh offices in the North Tower, but that day, my meeting was in the South Tower.
I arrived early and decided to join a friend from Aon for a cup of coffee before our scheduled meeting. We proceeded to the Sky Lobby on our way down to a coffee shop in the concourse. We heard that something had happened in the North Tower but were told there was no issue in our tower and we could return to our meetings. Because we had some time and we were curious, we headed downstairs, completely unaware of the magnitude of what had occurred just minutes earlier in the North Tower.
The events that followed are well chronicled, and everyone who survived that day lives with their own memories. The things we saw as we exited the building were even more terrible in person than can ever be grasped by what is captured on film.
Thinking about it 15 years later, it was an unbelievably sad day that changed the world for our generation. However, my heart also swelled with pride as a New Yorker and an American when I witnessed tremendous human courage and strength in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. As we know now, our brave first responders ran back in, not away from the danger.
Christine McGuire, Sedgwick client services director, Melville, New York
Like Pete, I remember how beautiful that Tuesday morning was. My children were in the first, third and fifth grades at the start of 2001 school year, so I was excited to walk all three of them to the same bus. My husband Brien, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, was off duty that day; he left home early in the morning to help build a fence in a nearby town.
I returned home from the bus stop and watched with the rest of the world as the horrific events unfolded on TV. My phone started ringing off the hook, with family and friends frantically asking whether Brien was in the Twin Towers when they fell. We didn’t have cell phones at the time, so I wasn’t able to contact him. He finally called from a pay phone to let me know that the entire FDNY had been called to lower Manhattan and he was headed to Ground Zero.
We didn’t see him again until Sunday morning. Instead of sleeping, he showered and put on a suit, and we went to church as a family. After church, he changed clothes and went right back to the city. For the next several weeks, we only saw him about once a week. He slept in his car or in various firehouses, along with the other first responders. During that time, I did my best to shield our children from the nonstop news coverage. However, they were in school with children whose parents were killed in the attacks or were still unaccounted for.
Brien brought home some things he’d received from those volunteering for the recovery efforts. One of them was a simple red, white and blue ribbon with a medallion on it. Our daughter Megan, then age 10, was attracted to this memento for some reason. She took it up to her room, scanned the image, and wrote this poem:
Megan understood and sensed the magnitude of what had happened. She also appreciated her father’s amazing efforts to help others find closure and healing for all that was lost that day. (That insightful young girl is now 25 years old and getting married in June.)
Our family will never forget the events of that tragic day. This past summer, we attended the funerals of two fellow firefighters who assisted in the aftermath of 9/11. One passed away of an illness resulting from his exposure to harmful conditions during the recovery efforts. The other was the father of our dear friend, FDNY Chief Lawrence Stack, whose remains were never found at Ground Zero. Recently, two vials of blood that he donated before 9/11 were discovered, so his family was finally able to have a funeral; here is a video of the procession.
Brien is about to celebrate 30 years as a New York City firefighter, and we could not be more proud. We continue to mourn those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day, and we will always think of the brave men and women who gave of themselves to aid others.
Pete and Christine
We are so proud that Sedgwick has contributed $5,000 to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund to help us mark this 15th anniversary in a meaningful way. It’s a beautiful reflection of the company’s caring countsSM philosophy and commitment to education. The fund provides academic scholarships to the financially needy dependents of those killed or severely injured in the 9/11 attacks and related rescue efforts.
We hope you will join us in supporting the scholarship fund to let those who lost the most that day know that we will never forget.