What happened September 11, 2001

September 10, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA

To those of you who lost loved ones in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, here’s what happened in their final moments.

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Your father was a hero.  When the building shook from the blast, he did not concern himself with fear.  He helped unblock an office door which had been barricaded by debris and furniture that had moved. He freed three people.

Your friend who was on the plane being hijacked recognized immediately how serious the matter was and reached to calm the shaking hand of the person in the next seat.

Your wife saw a man bleeding from his head and she tore a piece from her shirt and made a bandage for him.

Your aunt helped her co-workers who could not find the exit through the smoke – they all made it. Then she went back for others.

Your nephew who was the pilot on the plane had only the safety of everyone on board in focus every second.

Your grandfather found a young man pinned under a fallen piece of ceiling and even when the young man said go on without him – he stayed until others heard the calls and came to help.

Your husband took on the hijackers believing it would cost his life. He helped save hundreds of people neither of you will ever know.

Your grandmother who worked at the Pentagon led hundreds who were physically stronger to a secure area, putting them before her own welfare as she always has.

Your uncle gave his water to a choking woman who gave him God’s blessing with every floor they arrived at, arm in arm.

Your brother who always wanted to be a policeman knew without doubt as he followed the cries for help up the stairs this was the moment why. 

Your sister searched her entire floor to make sure everyone was out of there before she began to make her own way down. 

Your friend held the exit door open for his office-mates with his wheelchair, cheering as they moved on that “We’ll all get out together.” And he didn’t so much hold on to those who lifted him down as he hugged them.

Your son would not let the tired woman stop. He cajoled her by telling her she reminded him of you; how you two had to meet. He even called her mom to keep her moving.

Your flight attendant daughter was forced to the back of the plane with all the others on board but stood in front of them in protective defiance; keeping herself between the terrorists and her passengers.

Your sister climbed back up three flights against the crowd and heat, believing her assistant was still there.

Your college buddy’s sense of humor kept all in his voice’s range smiling and moving with hope.

Your niece lent her shoulder to lean on for a man she had seen in the elevator so many times but whose name she never knew.

Your sister-in-law saw a man sitting in the stairwell coughing, and shared her asthma medicine. They moved on together.

Your firefighter brother-in-law helped hundreds of people out, redirecting them to clearer exits as he climbed higher and higher.

Your nephew and his boss carried an older woman 38 floors.

Your cousin got everyone to sing “The Long and Winding Road” as they worked their way down, making up the words they didn’t know.

Your mother’s last thoughts were the same thoughts she’s had as she lay her head down every night since you were born.

You wonder what happened. You want to know what these people you love were feeling, what they were thinking, what they went through in their final moments.  These are actual facts, exactly as they happened. As true as their love for you. As true as their faith in your love for them.


You can’t get away with nothing these days. And that’s good news.

June 23, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA

Big Brother does exist. No, it’s not the government. It’s us. And it’s a good thing. With the ubiquitous capacity to take a photo or capture video from your phone combined with the ability to communicate in an instant to millions on Twitter, we have 24/7 surveillance. We are being watched while we are doing the watching while sharing and it’s for our own good.  Who better to do it?

Personally I believe human nature is good. Yes, that even goes for most ad people.  The universal camera that is trained on us all will show that to be true. In our emails we get more good stuff than ever; like this video about people who commit random acts of kindness.

The first images I saw from the United Airlines emergency landing in the Hudson came to my phone via Twitter.

But if you happen to be trying to pull something Mr. Naughty – well then, just like Tom Joad said in The Grapes of Wrath, “I’ll be there.” The 2009 version of the book will add “and I’ll tweet my 25,000 followers and they’ll tweet their followers….” The point is, if one person sees it, instantly millions will see it.

The election in Iran proves this.  The outpouring was immediate and gripping. Twitter lists showed a steady stream of updates and links to photos and videos all making the developing turmoil clear and irrefutable. It’s still going on despite threats from the Supreme Leader. The communication will not stop.  And it’s not only in government that this is happening, of course. When Amazon seemed to be censoring books, the Twitterverse was on them fast as you can “oh no you didn’t” and Amazon used Twitter right back to react to the protests. The books are up for sale again. 

Twitter had approximately 17 million unique U.S.-based visitors in April, and about 24 million worldwide, according to Nielsen. Its number of users has grown by more than a thousand percent over the last year. Are they all good guys? Maybe not, but their followers are watching them, making sure they behave – a mass deputizing.

So if you’re a bad guy, take this as a warning because bad news travels faster than ever. Don’t do it — because it’s wrong.  But if that isn’t enough, don’t do it because you will get caught. Because you are being watched. 

Good news, though perhaps a laggard in making the rounds, will still get passed around and will inspire more and more good.  I’m convinced of it. And that makes us all better, don’t you think, my Brother?