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    • Have you been on the scene at a moment in history? Olympics? Inauguration? The unveiling of the first iPhone? The tearing down of the Berlin Wall?

      Tell me something about you in History that I didn’t know.

    • “AFL-NFL World Championship Game” (which later became known as Super Bowl I) in LA with my grandfather. To my knowledge, I don't think there is a single image of us at the game. My grandfather was a big Lombardi fan.

    • Oh boy, this is going to be dull, so lower you're expectations immediately....

      Back in the 1990's the financing technique known as "securitisation" was very new. It became very mainstream, but at the time it was dark magic, financially speaking.

      Well, I was involved in the bank team that executed the first ever securitisation of UK lease receivables.

      Told you it would be dull.

    • I was in a conference room overlooking the Twin Towers when the planes flew into them. We didn’t see the first plane, but sometime after it hit someone noticed smoke coming from the tower. Steve Reggio, who was in the meeting, said his aunt worked in the 104th floor.

      As we watched, wondering, someone said “look, a plane is coming to help.” I guess they were thinking it had fire retardant? Then someone pointed out it was a passenger plane. We went quiet until it flew into the second tower. Then we ran out of the building thinking more planes were coming.

      I eventually went to where Ashleigh Banfield was reporting from the top of a news truck with tower 7 a few blocks behind her, burning, waiting to collapse. A policeman asked if I would volunteer, so I followed him to the triage center amidst all the rubble.

      By this time I, like most of the emergency workers, was in shock. You had to be there to understand the scale. I couldn’t understand it and was certain I was having a vivid nightmare and kept trying to force myself awake. There was nothing to compare it to, not the Titanic, not Pearl Harbor. It had to be a dream.

      I don’t know what they would have had me do. Carry body bags? They had brought 4,000 of them in. But the only bodies came early, from the jumpers. The TV coverage didn’t show those. They led me back out, I don’t know why. I walked past the smashed fire truck. It seemed only a foot thick. I passed the steel mesh. It seemed the size of a football field.

      After a few hours I could finally get through to my wife. The schools in California notified my children in the middle of their classes that I was okay.

      We had to stay in the city for 8 days. It was eerie and quiet. People drove slowly. They didn’t honk. I got phone calls from Californians who wanted me to join meetings by telephone. It seemed crazy. Didn’t they know the world had stopped?

      We took the train to Philadelphia after 8 days. It was totally different. The traffic was bustling. Didn’t they appreciate the magnitude of what happened? What was wrong with them?

      It took a few days back home to adjust. I had lunch a few months ago with Dennis Capovilla, my close friend who was with me in New York because we worked together. We compared memories. I wouldn’t believe my own memory if it weren’t for people like Dennis who were also there.

    • Chris...

      As a retired AA Captain, who was flying the morning of 9/11 at the time of the attacks, your recollections of that morning still bring back raw emotions. Thanks for sharing none-the-less as they are important to you and to share. Bill

    • Wow, that's crazy. Perhaps the most inspiring documentary I've ever watched was made by a lawyer who was inspired by this story. I've watched it several times, once with my daughter, who was moved as well:

    • Well, I was involved in the bank team that executed the first ever securitisation of UK lease receivables.

      OMG, I knew you were a financial services rock star—but securitization of lease receivables?!

      Has life since that moment been a continual letdown?


    • Our next “Sunday Panel” will not be until Sunday March 1st. For those who would like to sign-up, I should have a sign-up post up on the Thursday before: I’ll include the topic we’ll be covering and some general requests for those choosing to participate; here’s last week’s sign-up post as an example.

    • I was in the Army when Ireland elected its first female President, Mary Robinson.

      I was on the Guard of Honour in Dublin Castle. A tiny part of a moment in history.

      I was working in Dublin when President Obama gave a speech during his visit, he used the phase "is feidir linn", Irish for "yes we can", his election slogan. A powerful orator.

    • I'm afraid that I have to admit that I've never participated in or been at a "world history event". But there are history events in my life that stand out that have changed the way I live.

      A million years ago when I was a young cop, I came across a woman walking in the road at about 2:00 AM. I stopped to ask if she needed help. At first she refused but later decided to take me up on my offer. She said she had a fight with her boyfriend and her purse and keys to her house were still at the boyfriends house.

      She asked if I would transport her to the house to pick up her belongings. I asked dispatch to alert the boyfriend that the police were coming with his girlfriend to pickup her belongings. They made the call and he agreed. There were to be no problems.

      As I approached the house, I saw a man open a second floor window and out popped a .45 caliber pistol and he immediately started shooting. I dove for cover as the dirt sprayed all around me. Ultimately, the man surrendered.

      But that's not where the history part comes in. That happened nearly forty years later when I visited Normandy and walked the beaches that brave and heroic D-day landers stormed to help free Europe. I walked through the American cemetery with all its monuments perfectly aligned. There were thousands of them.

      And that's where I lived history. I could vividly remember the dirt flying around me from a single shooter. Now I was standing on ground where there were thousands shooters. The thought of all those bullets flying, and along with them sand, metal, and body parts came through to me loud and clear. I cried.

      Comparatively, my little adventure was nothing. But the experience from that brief time really brought forth a tiny degree of understanding of what the D-day landers experienced. I have to say I felt like I was there. It terrified me and very much changed me. I would say that that visit helped me understand the bravery and sacrifice of those people.

      No I wasn't there, but somehow, those brave men made me feel like I was.

    • I visited Normandy and walked the beaches that brave and heroic D-day landers stormed to help free Europe

      Beautifully written. Thank you. I don’t know if you saw, but I got to go to Normandy for the 75th anniversary last year. It was the last of its kind because the veterans were in their late 90s. I will never forget it.

    • Chris, I do recall your article and all the spectacular pictures and heartfelt words. I thank you very much for recording those memories. As you said, your visit may be the last commemoration with actual D-day landers because of their ages. Soon, they'll all be gone.

      But I hope that the commemorations continue. I think the world, especially now needs to remember how bad times were and how much sacrifice it takes to stop evil. In my mind, these types of commemorations help people to remember. Sometimes remembering the bad things is important.

      Once again, thanks for posting your images and words about Normandy.

    • During the Russian coup d'etat attempt (AKA constitutional crisis) in October 1993 I was one of a handful of people sitting on an IRC channel and relaying news from the streets as we saw it. I was in St.Petersburg (recently renamed from Leningrad) and some other people (some of those friends of mine, Fidonet sysops/early Internet admins) in Moscow.

      If you can find it in yourself to read through a bunch of technical noise (join/leave messages and such), there are some logs preserved from that time, e.g. here -

      "Bravo" there is me :)

      It doesn't look like being much, a few phrases here and there, but at the time, with the news of tanks rolling towards the city, and having to lock myself in the room at work overnight with lights out lest I be discovered by the campus security which answered to KGB, it did feel a bit like a secret spy radioing from behind the enemy lines. The fact that 99.9% of the people around hadn't the foggiest idea what IRC is, was only adding to the mystique.

      I did check with a friend present in that log that it was indeed him, and he went OMG it was 27 years ago.

      Helpful Wikipedia link about the event:

    • The fact that 99.9% of the people around hadn't the foggiest idea what IRC is, was only adding to the mystique.

      I would think that ignorance would’ve allowed you to communicate without worrying of the government discovering it; although, as you mentioned, the security guards would’ve reported you if they had caught you there after hours. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like living through a potential coup, and I hope I never experience it first hand.

    • You are correct in that ignorance more or less allowed a lot of good things to happen within the electronic communications up until mid-2000s, give or take, and then Mr.Putin and his klept realised that Internet was the new TV (telephone, telegraph and railway stations, to quote Vladimir Lenin), and started exploiting it internally and externally, and turning the screws internally.

      However, it doesn't take much enlightenment to catch an "enemy" element; continuing the spy analogy, you don't need to be a radio operator or even understand how it works, to catch someone transmitting something from under the bush and packing that person off to be tried, or maybe just shot, depending on circumstances (this is a metaphor, please do not take it as a real reference on possible outcomes in my particular case described; if caught there and then, it would be mildly unpleasant, but likely without bodily harm and likely even without jail-grade repercussions; today, though, jail time would be virtually guaranteed).

      And as to coups, there was another one just two years prior:

      Not to mention that during 20+ years of Putin's rule there have been plenty of happenings that would look Watergate like a child's play, but with zero consequences if you don't count conspiracy theories.

      To make an additional effort to stay ontopic for the panel, I will quote Kurt Vonnegut Jr, from Cat's Cradle:

      History! Read it and weep!