As we reflect on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and on the friends and family no longer with us, it's important to remember that disaster was followed by one of the greatest days in the history of the New York Stock Exchange — the reopening of trading on Monday, Sept. 17, 2001.
That day, I was there early, standing outside the NYSE with Chairman Richard Grasso as Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill drove up to help ring the opening bell with firefighters and police officers. They were led by NYC Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik and Fire Department Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, along with Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt.
"The market is ready, the country is ready," Grasso declared. "We're back to business. Don't bet against America because you'll be wrong."
On the floor, a trader comforts another during a moment of silence on September 17, 2001.David L Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images
On the floor, the mood was tense but patriotic, and why shouldn't it be? Warren Buffett had gone on CBS' "60 Minutes," saying he would not sell any of his holdings when the market reopened. There had been numerous calls in the week before from investors insisting it was the patriotic duty to buy.
Before the open, two minutes of silence were observed. Members of the New York City police and fire departments, representing the heroes of 9/11, had come on the floor. The entire room sang "God Bless America," and then the police and firefighters, along with the dignitaries, rang the opening bell.