honoring James G. Smith
5 years ago, a tragedy occurred. Regardless of your politics, regardless of your beliefs about who was the perpetrator, the fact remains, 2996 Americans fell victim to an attack on September 11, 2001. Personally, that day is etched in my mind as deeply as the day Reagan got shot, John Lennon's murder, and the Challenger explosion. In honor of the victims of that day, someone thought it would be fitting for bloggers to honor just one of the victims on their blog. At random, I was assigned a name: Mr. James G. Smith, the 2853rd person on the list. I am proud to memorialize him here. If you are a friend and family member of Mr. Smith, feel free to leave a comment, to share your memories of your loved one.
JAMES GREGORY SMITH
`Ready to Bite a Bear'
Maybe James Gregory Smith's knack for finance began with the paper-route money he stashed in his Cap'n Crunch Treasure Box for safekeeping. Instead of frittering his funds away, he stockpiled them. From then on, he always held after-school jobs. A stalwart Islanders fan, he kept himself in hockey skates during high school in Hicksville, N.Y., helped put himself through college, and used contacts supplied by his uncle to land a series of jobs on Wall Street, the last at Cantor Fitzgerald.
He once told his sister, Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, that a successful trader needed to get up each morning "ready to bite a bear." Which he happily did. She suspects that in a less capitalistic landscape he might have preferred to run a little wine shop — he was a budding collector — or coach hockey.
"But he felt lucky to have his job; we grew up in a working-class family, and Jimmy's career choice turned out to be such a lucrative one," said Ms. Lewthwaite. It bought him and his wife, Donna, a home in Garden City. It meant he was able to take ski vacations with friends, and to take his four children on annual treks to Disney World. Recently it had allowed him to indulge, at age 43, in a sporty Saab convertible he wryly called his "change-of-life" mobile or, whenever he and Donna needed a night out on the town, his "date car."
James was a 1979 graduate of the University at Albany. In 2002, the first anniversary of his loss, his alma mater planted two trees in memory of him, the other seventeen alumni lost with him, and the thousands of other voices silenced so brutally and suddenly.
My heart goes out to the family who mourn his senseless death, not only on 9/11/2001, but every day since then. The date of 9/11/2006 must be especially painful for them. To Mr. Smith’s family and friends, I say I only hope your pain eases with time.
Mr. Smith, you will be remembered forever by Americans who respect you for your being “Just a Guy” and an American who died for the simple fact you were someone who did his job to the best of his ability. We as a nation of “Just a Guys” salute you.
The victims of 9-11-01 were more than just numbers and statistics. They were real people, family members, team members, leaders... Let us remember them...for who they were in their own lives and stop remembering how this all came about. Let's celebrate the lives of those, the character of those who were abruptly taken from their time here on earth.