Anthony Cinelli is an Event Specialist in the Event Marketing Division of Global Communications & Marketing, NYSE Euronext.
The scars of September 11, 2001 will, no doubt, remain a part of a global collective unconscious, like Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and The Holocaust. While the past decade was spent working through stages of grief, accompanying the struggle to recover and rebuild, this September 11, 2012 marked a paradigm shift as The Freedom Tower rising redefines the New York Skyline and Lower Manhattan Financial District. With the start of a new era, Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL Corp (NYSE: AOL), and his non-profit organization, “Action America”, backed by a coalition of business moguls, sports stars and celebrities, has leveraged AOL.com to refocus the day on Congress’s largely unsuccessful attempt at transforming 9/11 into a widely observed “National Day of Service and Remembrance.” And on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, representatives of MyGoodDeed, the nonprofit that annually organizes the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance (“9/11 Day of Observance” (http://911day.org), and Action America commemorated the initiative with The Opening Bell to commence trading and signal the change.
The morning was marked at the Exchange, like in many neighboring cities and towns, with observed moments of silence when each of the towers were struck in respect for those lost the day the market did not open. Like everyone moved by the mindboggling surrealism of a nation under siege, I can remember in stark detail how the shocking sequence of events unfolded, like a background story of a Costa Gavras film, as I struggled through a tenuous closing on my first home the day I was fortunately blessed to be out of my Wall Street office. I can also vividly summon the specter of the march to Wall Street that stark, grey day September 17, 2001, to reopen the market.
The vision of a war torn Lower Manhattan, punctuated by military vehicles and soldiers, toting heavy artillery along the barricades and tattered city streets, speckled with civilians wearing face masks to protect themselves from the rank stench of a moldering pyre of chemical debris at ground zero, was startlingly reminiscent of documentary footage of London after the blitz I’d watched as a child with my father, a veteran of WWII. We “Let Freedom Ring” that day, the market opened and dropped, two wars have been fought, lives lost, heroes honored, veterans have returned to the highest unemployment in an era, and the threat, as we recently bore witness, is ongoing.
The Exchange has historically been a patriotic institution, with many men and women of the organization having served, some in multiple campaigns. There are many ways we honor the men and women who serve through Opening and Closing Bell Ceremonies as well as other events and special programs. Nevertheless, we continually strive to do more. This September 11th, the Exchange hosted our second annual Veterans Career Workshop as partial fulfillment of a pledge, led by Lawrence Leibowitz, Chief Operating Officer, NYSE Euronext, at the “I Will” sculpture in Times Square this past August to drive the single largest day of charitable service. Originally held Thanksgiving week 2011 along the theme of giving, this year’s positioning became the perfect opportunity to lead the charge by example, and highlight the message. The event, for the second year in a row, was a huge success with more than forty veteran participants, who fine tuned resumes, learned the difference between networking and relationship building, and practiced interviews during a series of structured sessions. Welcoming remarks were given by Marsh Carter, Chairman of NYSE Group, and Deputy Chairman of NYSE Euronext, a Vietnam War Veteran, himself, and recent honoree of The Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Veterans enjoyed a luncheon buffet with their peers before their program, a tour of the Trading Floor, and viewing of The Closing Bell, rung by Tuesday’s Children Board Member Bert McCooey, joined by family members of September 11th victims, and some of the organization’s corporate partners, including Morgan Stanley Smith Barney; Guy Carpenter & Company LLC; Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC); AON Corporation (NYSE: AON); and Keefe, Bruyette, and Woods, as well as The Honorable Rudolph Giuliani, former Mayor of the City of New York. Following The Closing Bell, Veterans had a candid conversation with NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer, Board Member of The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, who committed to doing everything possible to lead efforts across industries for hiring the hiring of U.S. Military Veterans, some of the highest trained talent with the best skill set in the marketplace.
The conversation does not begin and end here, though. Partnering with Fortune on May 7, NYSE hosted an Evening with the Fortune 500, America’s Military Leaders: Inspiring the Success of America’s Leading Companies, which focused on the most innovative and effective means by which companies are creating jobs and employing military veterans, one of our most valuable resources. The evening also included table discussions that dug into practical approaches to turning engagement with veterans into a competitive advantage. This summer, The Exchange implemented its first Veterans Associate Program, which provided veterans with summer internships, leading to several hires, and great enthusiasm for future programs. Later this month, the Exchange will host a forum open to all corporations (free of charge), which will be aimed at embedding the practice of hiring vets into corporate culture, and harnessing their tremendous leadership and adaptability skills.
This is a call to action for Corporate America. Now is the time for all corporations to come to the aid of their veterans. “I Will”, with the leadership of NYSE Euronext and my colleagues, stay the course to get vets back to work, and trust you’ll pledge to strengthen efforts via your engagement.