It was dark morning and I was driving to my office. The stars were still out. I live in San Francisco, not New York, and was speaking to a trader in New York City about a bond trade I was looking to make. The time was 5:45 am Pacific Coast time; 8:45 am in the East. It was a typical conversation until he interrupted me and said words that I will remember forever: "Something is happening right now in NYC, I need to go."
It was on Sept. 11, 2001.
Like many of you, the memories of this day are difficult to recall. To this day I have neither watched any movies or documentaries about the events of 9/11, it is frankly far too difficult. I know people who lost loved ones and I can only imagine how horrible the scars must be. The burning sadness that must still resonate everyday in their heart is surely so deep. And with this 10th anniversary, the memories must be flooding back.
I remember very clearly the sense of unity that we Americans felt in the days following Sept. 11. Perhaps you recall as well. The determination to rebuild. Countless memorial services attended by Americans across the country. And the simple things that seemed to be so symbolic and important—continuing the World Series as a statement that America will not bow to terror.
It's funny how nowadays the headlines seem to talk of discord and lack of hope in the United States. Politicians squabble and the day-to-day drama makes it seem as if this country is mired in stagnation that is inevitably going to lead to the demise of America. The skeptics say the United States is irrelevant. The cynics say that our democratic dysfunction means we cannot win or survive in a global environment that is rapidly changing.
I say ridiculous.
As you may know, I am of the belief that the United States economy will slow and grow at a slower pace for years. My cautious perspective is well known. But do not think for a moment believe that I believe the United States is irrelevant—far from it. There's a reason why people round the world clamor to enter the United States; they know this is THE country where opportunity is ripe for those willing to work hard with creativity and determination. They know this imperfect nation values the individual and, at its core, seeks to provide an environment where success can take root.
One only needs to visit countries around the globe to recognize that the United States is still the envy of the world in many ways. Imperfect yes, but still America.
Perhaps on this somber weekend, we will take time to reflect that we do not have to be a divided nation. Instead, we can be a unified and determined population all seeking to show the world that America can win. Perhaps with this patriotic burst that we feel in our sorrow, we can honor those that lost their lives by making this country and even better place to live and work.
Yes, America can come together and we should pause for a moment and feel the connection as fellow citizens that we feel during this infamous anniversary. It is possible, despite the naysayers trumpeting voices, to address our problems and be one nation again.
May those that perished in 9/11, and all who lost their lives as a consequence of this horrible new chapter in global history, rest in peace. And may we honor them by coming together as a nation to work together, as citizens of one great nation, to move our country forward and win with honor in this new global environment. It is possible, despite those that say it is not.
It is possible.
Michael A. Yoshikami, PhD, CFP, is CEO, founder, and Chairman of YCMNET Investment Committee YCMNET Advisors.