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Remembering the Heroes of 9/11

Statue of libertyTen years – a decade in time – but with memories embedded so vividly in our minds, it is as if it could have been yesterday. Our thoughts are still with the 3,000 Americans who were killed, and the more than 6,000 who have died in ensuing military actions. Our country came together after September 11, with people of all colors and political beliefs flying American flags outside their doors. Candles lit our windows; yellow ribbons hung from our doors and mailboxes, and tears streamed from our saddened and disbelieving eyes.

Having a view of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan from my Jersey City apartment where I grew up, the skyline has always been a natural part of my life.

The skyline morphed over the years and after the early 1970s, the twin towers became the dominant focal point to the breathtaking view of downtown Manhattan.

That focal point ended abruptly on September 11, 2001. I will never forget the feeling of emptiness when my car came over the crest of a hill looking directly across the Hudson River and saw the bellowing smoke against the crystal blue sky early that Tuesday afternoon. To this day, every time I see that void in the skyline, as I venture toward New York, a feeling of emptiness returns.

It is a reminder of my personal friends who lost their lives; it is a reminder of the families that remain without their loved ones; and it is a reminder of how our world has changed.

Our country, our profession and our own lives have changed dramatically during the past decade. That day changed the definition of the word “hero” and drastically re-aligned our priorities and values.

Today, on behalf of the AICPA, I would like to thank the many CPAs who mobilized into action in the days and weeks following the attack. Their immediate focus was on helping those directly impacted by the day’s events. Many members volunteered their time to consult with survivors and families of victims seeking financial guidance. Contributions to the AICPA Benevolent Fund and CPAs in Support of America demonstrated our members' unending kindness and compassion for those in need.  AICPA members reached deep into their pockets and, combined, donated more than $185,000 to September 11 charities. The time, donations and willingness to help others in need show a continued dedication to helping your fellow citizens.

Most of all, we recall how the events that day underscored just how sacred life is, and how much we treasure our family, friends, country and profession. If we didn’t before, we know now that our professional and personal lives can be changed in an instant by unexpected events and circumstances. On that day, we came together and demonstrated the unconquerable human spirit and selfless devotion we all share in our hearts.

On September 11, 2011, and indeed every day, the AICPA would like to encourage all its members to take a moment to give thanks for what we have, even as we remember what we have lost. Please make some time to think of those we have lost and offer a silent thought, prayer or gesture to honor their memory. We are one country, one human race and one profession. Together, we will remember and honor those who have fallen today and forever in the future.

Paul V. Stahlin, CPA, Chairman, American Institute of CPAs.

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