The Day After

The day after.

It’s when things start to set in.

It’s when you start to process what’s happened.

It’s when things start to get back “to normal”.

But it’s not “normal” anymore, is it?

I remember Sept. 12th just as vividly as Sept. 11th.

In fact, I remember that whole week as if it was yesterday.

I flew from Boston to LA on Sept. 10th, 2001 with Akamai CEO George Conrades and CFO Tim Weller.

Akamai co-founder and CTO Danny Lewin was supposed to be on our flight.

My friend Danny.

The most inspirational leader I’ve ever met.

Someone with a big brain with an even bigger heart.

Someone who would never give up.

Someone who would never give up on you.

There was something going on back at the office, and typical Danny he said he would help take care of it.

Danny said just go and he’ll meet us in LA.

Akamai was to present at a CSFB investor conference the morning of 9/11.

In the afternoon, we were meeting with clients including Jimmy Iovine who wanted to discuss how we could help make his online music venture PressPlay better.

Danny never made it to LA.

The morning of 9/11, I woke up to a frantic call from Tim to turn on CNBC.

There was something about a Boston-to-LA plane hitting the World Trade Center.

Tim knew right away.

“Danny was on that plane!”, he said in disbelief.

Minutes later it was confirmed.

Danny was on the plane.

If there was ever someone who could have stopped the terrorists on that plane, it was Danny.

Unfortunately, Danny was the first person to die on September 11, 2001.

Sitting in seat 9B of American flight 11, Danny was killed before the plane ever hit the towers.

As a born and raised New Yorker watching the events unfold in sunny California, it all just felt surreal.

Slowly the gravity of the situation rippled its way across the country.

The CSFB conference was eventually canceled.

With all planes grounded, we were stranded on the West Coast with no way to head back to Boston.

Since we were a public company, we had to do an investor conference call and confirm that we had lost our fearless Co-Founder & CTO.

We had all lost something that day.

For the Akamai familia, we lost our leader and friend.

For the industry, we lost a visionary.

And for his wife Anne and his boys, they faced the ultimate loss of a husband and a father.

George showed incredible strength and leadership.

Danny was like a son to him.

George pushed through the grief and carried on through the day.

He spoke with employees.

He spoke with clients and partners.

We even ended up going to the afternoon meeting with Jimmy Iovine.

Danny would’ve wanted it that way.

That’s why Danny was “a titan” — the term he’d always use with all of us.

On September 11th, the technology that Danny helped invent along with Akamai Co-Founder Tom Leighton helped save the Internet.

On September 12th, things went back to “normal”.

But they never really did, of course.

The world was changed.

The day after was in fact a new day.

On Sept. 12th, as we continued to mourn we pushed forward with this new normal.

George moved us forward, continuing to talk with all employees, clients and partners that he could.

Akamai’s President Paul Sagan moved us forward, making sure the business was being stabilized after the massive shock to our system.

In fact, we all banded together to move us forward.

For all of us at Akamai during those days, we will never forget what happened.

We will never forget Danny.

Yesterday, we commemorated the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

15 years later, the world is still dealing with the aftermath of that horrific day.

Today is the day after.

What happens next?

Have you taken stock of what’s happened?

How are you moving forward?

How are you making a difference?

Life is indeed short.

Our time together is short.

Never forget that.

And never forget.

So what will you do with your new day?

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade