“Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow …”
– from the musical, “The Fantasticks”
As many of our readers are no doubt aware, today Americans observe and celebrate National Chocolate Milkshake Day, this in the midst of National Bourbon Heritage Month. Ah, September ….
September is the ninth month on the Gregorian calendar (the name derives from the Latin “septem,” which means “seven,” and indeed September was the seventh month of the ancient Roman calendar).
As the Cayman Islands awakens on this Sept. 12 morn, many of our memories will be of an earlier Sept. 12 – 2004 – when Hurricane Ivan, the most destructive storm in the country’s collective memory, indeed history, left our landscape – but not our people – broken and, some thought, wrongly, beyond repair.
It was a time for Godly faith, reverent prayer, and extraordinary human (almost superhuman) resilience and the beginnings of rebuilding. As all wise men and women know, after a harvest, the next generation of crops grows back more robust and more bountiful. That is what has happened in Cayman.
And yet, nearly to the anniversary day of our encounter with Ivan, our neighbors to the east, and indeed the north, have found themselves in the path of Hurricane Irma. Ivan and Irma. Four-letter appellations deserving of four-letter epithets to be sure.
Of course, Sept. 11 brings back other indelible memories. That date, in 2001, supersedes Dec. 7, 1944 (the bombing of Pearl Harbor) as a “day that will live in infamy.”
On the morning of “9/11,” four coordinated attacks by the Islamic terrorist group known as al-Qaida took 2,996 lives on American soil. Two hijacked commercial airliners – American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 – crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in the financial district of New York City. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. (Ironically the groundbreaking for the Pentagon, which houses the Department of Defense, took place on Sept. 11, 1941). A fourth airliner, also commandeered by terrorists, crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all on board.
We recall (as does nearly everyone) that fateful morning (and the mourning that followed) in the Cayman Islands. We were attending a presentation from Disney cruise ship representatives, hosted by then-Tourism Minister McKeeva Bush at the Marriott hotel.
That is where we learned that first World Trade Center tower (the North Tower) had been hit and, soon thereafter, that the South Tower – the first to fall – had also been struck.
In 2015, the story got considerably more personal. At Pinnacle Media Ltd., we were recruiting for the position of “business manager” and were interviewing Barrett Nixon, an MBA with Wall Street experience, for the post.
Barrett, whom we hired and is still with Pinnacle, knew how to get the attention of an interviewer. He related the harrowing story of being inside the South Tower – on the 43rd floor in the Morgan Stanley complex of offices – when the first plane slammed into the North Tower, followed just minutes later with the second plane crashing into his South Tower. While he managed to escape (he actually found a working elevator which carried him and several colleagues to the ground floor and safety), 614 others in his building perished when the tower collapsed).
Sept. 11 is the anniversary of an inordinate number of historical events, some heroic (“The Battle of Stirling Bridge,” fought in AD 1297) and some comedic (the debut of the “Carol Burnett Show” in 1967).
But we will dwell no further on the past. Let’s look to the future.
Since we began this editorial with a song from “The Fantasticks,” let’s close, for all of the victims of Hurricane Irma, with lyrics from “Annie”:
The sun will come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There will be sun
Just thinkin’ about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow
’til there’s none
When I’m stuck with a day that is grey and lonely
I just stick up my chin and grin and say, oh
The sun will come out tomorrow
So you gotta hang on
’til tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You are always a day away!