Jim Cramer was in New York City, as usual on a weekday, when terrorists flew two hijacked commercial aircraft into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
It’s a day that Cramer, like most Americans of a certain age, will never forget.
“When you ask people downtown that fateful morning, people like me, the memory of 9/11 being a beautiful day in New York – that’s always the first recollection,” he wrote recently ahead of the 20th anniversary of the attack. “I can recall the glint on those two towers being no different from any other gorgeous day. Never thought them magisterial. They were just there.”
And then they weren't.
Like many in the investment business, Cramer learned of the unfolding tragedy from watching his friend Mark Haines describing the events on CNBC, recalling that it was just no ordinary fire, no billowing smoke plume, and no accidental replication of the B-25 that hit another tall building uptown back in 1945.
“That tower was enshrouded by fog,” Cramer recalls. “This time, as crazy as it sounded, it had to be deliberate.”
The second crash sealed that mystery. “What happened then just still seems like science fiction. I was stuck in lockdown at 14 Wall and all I could think of was they would take our building down, too,” he said. “That, or perhaps still one more plane would be headed our way. No one knew anything that morning. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Cramer heard a sound that was so loud, he’s never heard anything like it, and doubts he will ever again. “Then everything went black, not once, but twice, two terrorist-made eclipses of the sun,” he noted. “After a time the fire department let us out and I recall it snowing, snowing hard, accumulating one inch, two inches, and I looked down to see how it could snow on such a clear day.”
Cramer then hitchhiked home, dazed by the day's events and still wondering if they really happened. He also has a suggestion for the leaders of a nation so sadly divided.
“My generation all knew that December 7, 1941, was a day that will live in infamy,” he said. “September 11, 2001, must also be remembered as infamous - even if the war still plays out with no victory 20 years later.”