Remembering 9/11 on the 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago tomorrow, I was in Manhattan with colleagues, attending a financial industry conference.

At the time, we didn’t know how fortunate we were that our 9:00 a.m. meeting had been changed to 11:00 a.m.

I was on route when the unimaginable happened. The cell phones in the city stopped working, but mine had a San Antonio area code, so I was able to get through to the U.S. Global Investors office to let everyone know we were safe.

With me were two company executives and the extraordinary Nancy Holmes (no relation, although she would often joke that I was her adopted son). She was advising my company as a PR strategist at the age of 82.

I’ve written about Nancy before. She led one of the most interesting and full lives I have ever known. She was a code clerk for the U.S. Army, a model in Paris for Balmain, a photojournalist for Columbia Pictures and a bestselling author and editor, including editor-at-large for Worth magazine. Like me, she was a world traveler, but in that dark hour we all just wanted to go home to Texas.

The night of 9/11, New York City completely shut down. The cabs disappeared and the subways stopped running. The airports would remain closed for many days.

The next morning, I found a driver to take us to New Jersey, where I had reserved one of the last available rental cars in the area. The four of us loaded into a Ford Expedition and began the long ride home. An adrenaline rush enabled me to drive us straight through for 30 hours.

We turned off the car radio because the nonstop coverage of the tragedy was too much to bear. Instead, Nancy entertained us with stories of her incredible trailblazing life, including her close friendships with the rich and famous, from Joan Collins and Elizabeth Taylor to Sean Connery and former hedge fund manager Julian Robertson. A bright light, Nancy passed away in 2007.

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I remember all the people who didn’t get to return home to their families, and I give thanks that I was among those lucky enough to do so.