938-3902. That was the telephone number for the equity-trading desk at Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 104th Floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower. I dialed it every morning to reach my brother, Matt, one of the firm's most promising and successful young traders.
We'd chat in the few minutes before the market opened and our day got hectic. On the morning of Sept 11, I had been trying to line up an interview with a mutual fund manager, with little success. I had no time to shoot the breeze with Matt on the phone, so I didn't get a chance to call him.
I would never speak to him again.
It's been one year since
|Matthew Burke (center) surrounded by friends and brother Kevin (far left).|
In fact, it is this type of fortitude and perseverance that drives Wall Street. These are the kind of people that make this country a great place. He was a hard-working American in his prime enjoying the fruits of his labor, only to have his life cut tragically short by those who envy our way of life. He harbored no ill will toward Muslims or their beliefs; he had no political agenda. Yet he was murdered simply for going to work and doing his job. And that pisses me off. And it should piss off every American who aspires to create a better life for themselves. I can't say that I've learned much in the past year from my 9/11 experience. There are too many internalized emotions I have yet to deal with.¿ It may take months or even years before I can get a firm grasp on this devastating loss. My brother is dead.¿ All I have now are memories. Ever since I could crawl he was right there by my side. As kids growing up on 56th Street in Brooklyn, we played touch football, sewer cap to sewer cap, and he was the quarterback, mapping out the plays on his stomach with his fingers. We played Wiffle ball in the neighbor's driveway every day after school, imitating our favorite Met players at the plate. We danced around our living room together after the Mets won the 1986 World Series. I will always cherish the great times we had growing up and the times we shared as we grew older as well. The weekends I would visit him at Fordham University, the nights he tended bar on the Upper East Side, and all the ballgames we watched together. I miss meeting in front of J. Crew in the basement of the World Trade Center and heading up to Madison Square Garden for St. John's basketball games, stopping for a few pints along the way. There was nothing I loved more than heading out to a ballgame with my brother -- a guaranteed great time. I still want to dial 938-3902 when I come across tickets to a ballgame, hear a funny anecdote or have good news to share.¿But I stop myself after punching the first two or three numbers, realizing he can't take my calls anymore. I miss him terribly. That big smile, the laughter, his generosity and compassion for others. He was my hero. He was all I could ask for in a brother, the consummate role model. Although I can never form new memories of Matt, I can always flip through the archives in my mind and smile. No act of evil, no terrorist can ever take these memories from me. He was my brother by birth, my best friend by choice, and in death he is my source of strength. Thorton Wilder once wrote, "the greatest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." Thanks for the all the memories, Matty. May you rest in peace.
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