Posts Tagged ‘terrorist attacks’

30th December
written by Sean Noble

Let’s say your boss is on vacation and something big happens at the office. You don’t want to bother him, so you tell everyone that there is nothing to worry about, “the system worked. Then, a couple days later your boss is compelled to hold a press conference to admit that there was a “systemic failure.” Quite the opposite of “the system worked.” You’d probably then be a little worried about whether you were going to keep your job.

So DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is probably not feeling all that secure right now. Obama hasn’t thrown her under the bus yet. But using “systemic failure” must make Napolitano cringe. As she was doing serious damage control about how her comments were related to the aftermath of the attack, Obama did, kind of, come to her defense:

Mr. Obama appeared to be trying to contain the damage on Tuesday, offering “systemic failure” as a substitute diagnosis for “system worked.” He framed Ms. Napolitano’s statement by saying she was right that “once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt, it’s clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions.”

Remember what happened after the last president defended a top official in a crisis? “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie.”

I’m not certain Napolitano should feel much comfort in the comments from Obama. Brown resigned within days of being praised by President Bush.

11th September
written by Sean Noble


I received an email today from my brother-in-law that he had written to mark the 8th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001.  It is excellent.

Like most of you, I remember clearly where I was and what I was doing when news of the attacks was received on September 11, 2001.  Shortly after the first tower fell, I was driving my daughter to work, and I recall making the comment, ‘The world will never be the same.’   Through the ensuing years that prophetic statement is being realized… both positive and negative ways.

A particularly positive outcome was the surge in patriotism and expressions of faith that followed.   In many ways those positive effects continue to this day.  During the aftermath, it was common to hear people speak of faith and divine intervention.

These comments were often made in business settings, where in the past it would have been very unusual to hear such pronouncements.  The comments weren’t in reference to a particular religion or belief system,  but rather references to belief in a supreme being, with expressions of gratitude for his love, protection, comfort and care. 

Another positive of singular note was the selfless sacrifice of those on flight 93, who gave their lives that others might live.  The ultimate sacrifice and evidence of true friendship.  ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’  John 15:13

My employer in 2001, Marsh & McLennan, had 1,908 colleagues based in the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  Miraculously, only 295 perished on 9/11,  an additional 54 victims were vendors, consultants and insurance company reps who were meeting with Marsh colleagues at the time of the attack.  Among the victims were a few dear friends, along with numerous acquaintances and respected colleagues.  I was a frequent visitor to Manhattan during the years before and after the attacks, and I remember the many phone calls from friends and family members confirming that I wasn’t in New York that particular week.  For several days after the attacks there was a constant stream of phone calls and emails as we networked together, confirming who was and who was not in the WTC that morning.  There were stories of loss, and amazing stories of faith and protection.  One good friend was in the lobby waiting for an elevator, fortunately the first elevator was full and while he waited for another, the plane hit the building.  He remained in the area briefly and narrowly escaped when the building came down.   Multitudes of similar stories can be told.   In remembrance, I periodically wear a lapel pin with an image of the flag, the Marsh logo and the inscription, ‘Semper Unitas’ (Always Together), 9/11/2001.

While the image of Marsh has been tarnished in the post Spitzer era, the days following 9/11 were its finest hour.  The firm responded immediately, humanely and generously.   In the 2001 annual report, MMC recorded pre-tax charges of $126 million for costs related directly to 9/11, which were not covered by MMC’s insurance program.  The insurance funded charges were many multiples of the uninsured charges incurred.  A monument to those who were lost stands in the plaza adjacent to the Marsh world headquarters in mid-town Manhattan.  It was my privilege to attend the dedication on September 11, 2003.   Eight years have now past, yet feelings remain tender during this season of the year.

My purpose in writing is not to harrow up memories of tragedy or loss.  I write in remembrance and respect for those who are gone, and more importantly, as a reminder of the transient nature of our lives and relationships, and the importance of living fully in the moment and appreciating and cherishing our families, friends and colleagues.   

Semper Unitas