We Will Never Forget: Honoring the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

John Finneran, Corporate Secretary of Capital One, reflects on the sacrifices made by those enveloped in all aspects of 9/11


It’s difficult to believe that it’s already been 20 years since al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes and attacked the United States of America. 

For many of us, the mere mention of 9/11 resurfaces painful memories and, perhaps, trauma inflicted by that morning’s events and what was to come in the days, months and years thereafter. 

Still today, we’re painfully reminded of the ripple effects of those unfathomable events on the course of world history. 

With our nation’s recent departure from Afghanistan and the loss of 13 U.S. Service members and 170 Afghan nationals in the recent terrorist attack at the Kabul Airport, this anniversary weighs heavily on our hearts and minds.

WE REMEMBER

For many, reflecting on the events of September 11, 2001, brings back clear memories of where we were when we first learned of the attacks. 

We remember calling our families and friends in shock about what we had seen. Some of us desperately tried to reach loved ones to see if they were safe. We all watched in horror as a second plane hit the South Tower and, in utter disbelief, as those magnificent buildings collapsed a short time later. 

We remember our capitol city standing under attack as a third plane hit the western facade of the Pentagon, and the fear we all felt as reports of a fourth hijacked plane became known. 

We did not know how to feel when Flight 93 crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania– killing everyone on board but sparing us more inevitable casualties that would have accompanied the thwarted attack on another landmark building. 

We remember tending to our loved ones, dialing up our friends and collecting our children early from school. 

We remember the 2,977 lives lost on that day. 

We also remember the countless survivors, those whose grief still reverberates and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our nation. 

We will remember the echoing impacts of that morning’s events on our morale, our posture, our outlook and our actions for years to come.

September 11, 2001 will live in infamy as the catalyst for the Global War on Terror. For many of us, it will also live in infamy as the day that forever changed the course of our lives.

Today, there are Capital One associates who were first responders, charging to the scene to rescue the lives of mere strangers. There are Active Duty Service members, Reservists and now-Veterans who courageously enlisted, stepping up to the call-to-duty to deploy overseas, defend our Nation and put their lives on the line to eradicate terrorism. 

There are military spouses and family members whose wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are still deployed.

Many of our Capital One colleagues were in New York, Washington, D.C. and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11, bearing witness to the horrific events that took place that day. 

Associates lost family or friends on 9/11 and in the ongoing war. Some associates subsequently experienced wrongful discrimination as a result of their faith or Middle Eastern heritage.

The all-encompassing changes to our society in the wake of 9/11 are realized even for those of us who don’t have direct ties to the events of that day. 

Many of us felt an increased sense of patriotism. 

For some, a sense of vulnerability and fear. 

We all experienced heightened security at the airport and large public events. 

As we witnessed the impact on those most directly affected by the events of 9/11 or the ensuing 20 years of armed intervention in the Middle East, many of us intentionally enhanced our awareness and understanding of the mental and physical health consequences of such traumatic events. 

All of these reminders keep alive for us the memory of what happened on September 11, 2001.

WE HONOR

We acknowledge the deeply-rooted impacts of 9/11 and the sacrifice demonstrated by those enveloped in all aspects of that day, and in the 20 years thereafter. We see the continued consequences of 9/11 in current events, where a tumultuous struggle for power and peace rages on in the Middle East. 

We’re humbled to be a part of a greater effort to pay tribute to what was, address what has become, and work to rebuild the world in which we live. 

The 9/11 Memorials in New York, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville serve as powerful reminders of the continued significance of the 9/11 Attacks on the trajectory of our lives, our country and the world. They also honor the victims, families and survivors, recognizing the lasting consequences on individual lives.

As evidenced by these tributes to collective heroism, we find meaning through shared experiences. 

That’s why Capital One is honoring the importance of this 20th anniversary through a number of commemoration activities and associate experiences. 

That includes four moments of silence on Friday, September 10, where we’ll dedicate intentional thought, space and heart to honor the tremendous loss, luminous hope and steadfast recovery exemplified over the last 20 years. We’ll also light the crown of Capital One Headquarters in McLean, Virginia blue on September 10 and September 11 in honor of this important milestone and in remembrance of those we lost. 

WE SUPPORT

We believe it’s our responsibility to continuously advocate for an equitable and inclusive society. That’s why we strive to lead by example, be a champion for equal protections and create opportunities for our service members, veterans, military spouses and their families. 

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Capital One had the privilege of supporting a national telethon to assist in relief efforts. 

In a harrowing tribute to humanity, 7,000 Capital One associates rallied together to answer 300,000 calls from viewers and raised more than $150 million dollars for the cause.

Over the 20 years that followed, we’re proud to have continued that work. We are announcing a new associate match program benefitting three critical organizations who are raising awareness, building protections and supporting families impacted by the events of 9/11.

  • Tunnels to Towers: Honors the legacy of firefighter Stephen Siller and all first responders who sacrificed their lives to save others on 9/11. Tunnel to Towers strives to ensure that our Nation never forgets the sacrifices made and lives lost on this tragic day. The foundation also supports military and first responders who are catastrophically-injured, fallen first responder families and Gold Star families.
  • Gary Sinise Foundation: Supports active Service members, veterans, first responders and their families through a variety of assistance programs, events and services that are designed to show gratitude and appreciation for our heroes and the sacrifices they have made.
  • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: Works to restore hope to homeless veterans through shaping public policy, building the capacity of service providers & promoting collaboration.

Additionally, Capital One is also proud to partner with 9/11 Day to provide meals to healthcare workers, veterans and those in need in New York City. All meals will be provided by local restaurants impacted by COVID-19. 

The lasting impacts of 9/11 are ever-present in our persons, our communities, our nation and our world today. 

On this anniversary, we’re humbled to remember those lost, reflect on what’s happened and recommit ourselves to supporting those directly affected by the events over the last 20 years. Ultimately, we are better equipped to process the great weight of this observance in unity and in shared support.