On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, about 200 trading professionals gathered at Fordham University to commemorate and reflect upon the memories of former colleagues, friends and loved ones who perished that day in the Twin Towers.
One consistent message throughout the day’s services was that the horrific events should never be forgotten. However, the main theme was about healing: Those who still require healing from the tragedy need to forgive and make compassion a focus in order to move on and lead productive lives. Overall, it was a day of introspection and of remembrance.
A luncheon for securities traders led off the day of activities on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. The lunch featured three speakers from the trading community. It was followed by a special Mass in the university’s church and then a separate interfaith memorial service.
In all, the trading community was represented far and wide, with attendees coming from five foreign countries: Canada, China, England, France and Thailand. Domestically, trading professionals traveled came from 12 different states.
When the 90-minute Mass ended, attendees leaving the packed church were handed long-stemmed white carnations and proceeded to a grotto across campus that commemorates the lives of 39 Fordham University graduates and students who died that day. The hundreds of carnations were placed at the base of the stage where a service was held that lasted about 30 minutes.
Fordham University was not alone in its grief. The Security Traders Association of New York lost 204 members that day. Since then, the trading community and Fordham have developed ties over the years through John N. Tognino, a retired trading executive who is the current chairman of the university’s board of trustees. Ten years ago working with Fordham, Tognino was the catalyst behind an interfaith service that brought together 1,500 investment professionals to honor 9/11 victims. He was also responsible for yesterday’s event and hosted the day’s luncheon.
At the remembrance event, Tognino recalled how the trading industry across the country was united after the attacks. He said it was inspiring how competing firms reached out to others in New York to offer assistance. At the time, Tognino was an executive at Nasdaq. He also discussed the heroism that day and the emotional toll on people that remains. Healing is still needed, he said, and that was the impetus for yesterday’s services. "They will always be with us," he added, speaking of the attacks’ victims.
The three trading veterans offering their thoughts on 9/11 were Peter DaPuzzo, a former executive at Cantor Fitzgerald; Arthur Pacheco, a former Bear Stearns executive; and Norman Shapiro, also formerly of Bear Stearns. They spoke for roughly 20 minutes and focused mainly on understanding what happened and why. One theme was forgiveness. They each also warned listeners before speaking that this was an emotional exercise and wouldn’t be easy. They were right.
The Rev. Joseph M. McShane, president of Fordham University, ended the luncheon with a few remarks. He called the day one of "prayer and reflection. This is the day that we celebrate the goodness of those who died."
McShane also celebrated the Mass. The Mass served double duty: Besides commemorating 9/11 victims, its other intention was to welcome back Fordham student for the new school year. "Living well is the best revenge," he told the 1,200 in attendance during his Homily. McShane echoed those words several times and at one point said that they "should be our post-Sept. 11 motto and approach to life."
McShane’s thoughts on "living well" initially sounded contrary to the theme of forgiveness that two earlier readings contained. And not something one would expect to hear from the pulpit.
However, he went on to explain that "living well" has nothing to do with self-indulgence or conspicuous consumption. In fact, McShane called for attendees to live lives of "conspicuous compassion," asking them to show mercy and charity toward others, as well as forgiveness. "That is our triumph." he said. "That is our revenge."
Before the final blessing, attendees were asked to turn south, toward where the Twin Towers stood, and raise their right hand, as McShane recited a prayer.