Saturday, September 15, 2001

Finally Heading Home

Have Winnebago...will travel.

After three days of watching flights from LAX to New York and Albuquerque dissolve into long lines and distant promises - we are finally leaving Los Angeles.

The last seven of us remaining from a Wall Street financial conference are piling into a rented Winnebago and heading east along Interstate 40 at noon today for Albuquerque and NYC. We have given up our places in rental cars, Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses - for those with much more pressing needs to get home.

Of course none of us are in a great hurry. My next two events have already cancelled. The six colleagues from Merrill Lynch riding with me have no offices to return to -- they were all destroyed during the course of Tuesday's events. We can, however, all claim families who are accounted for and tucked safely away at home waiting for our return. In the scope of things -- we feel lucky, fortunate and blessed. Many of the people that were with us at the beginning of the week or should have been with us during the course of the conference -- are not that fortunate. Our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families in the time of national crisis and loss. I hope you have reached out to your own families, friends and relatives to let them know how much they mean to you.

We will be a motley crew piling into that Winnebago -- an executive vice president of one of the world's largest financial companies, an investment banker, a millionaire many times over, a celebrated and savvy media analyst, an event planner...a secretary. We are black, white, jewish, gay, divorced. On any given normal day -- you would never find the seven of us sitting together for coffee -- much less a four day trip across the country in a house on wheels. Tuesday's events have changed all that; have changed any rules that might dictate normalcy. I believe it is this change that will make us a stronger nation.

In the aftermath of September 11, I hope our country has changed. I hope we are no longer blacks or whites or hispanics or gays or democrats or buddihsts or baptists -- but only Americans. I hope that's what you see when you turn on the television and walk out on the streets. I know that is all we are now -- the seven of us making our way across the country in a Winnebago -- just Americans trying to get home.

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