Monday, September 11, 2006


For the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, blogger D. C. Roe has organized a tribute where each blogger is assigned an individual to honor. On this venue we pay tribute to Mr. Joon Koo Kang. He is remembered by his family and friends; and they tell us about a fine young man who had his life before him before it was cut short by an act of violence.

Mr. Kang was a systems analyst for Cantor Fitzgerald working on the 102nd floor of 1 World Trade Center, the first to be attacked. He came to America as a child. Growing up he'd watch after his three younger sisters while his parents worked hard to support the family. In many ways, his story is the story of America. He studied hard and made sure his sisters did the same. But to get a sense of his unique personality, it's best to let his family tell us who he was.

His sister tell us, “For those of you who have known our brother Joon Koo know that he is not a man of many words, but that his action spoke loud and clear. He had a laughter that was contagious and a heart that could not be contained. His past coworker wrote of our brother being a true gentleman and as genuine a person as he has ever met.”

He was a pillar in his family and community, as his nurturing disposition encouraged him to mentor others. He was devoutly religious and played an active role in his church. The New York Times (October 27, 2001) recounts how he met his wife:

The couple met when Mrs. Kang visited New York as a college student in 1994. She soon returned to Korea, but he followed her back to Seoul the next year, and proposed to her the day after she graduated. "He gave me a thousand origami cranes, and said when he missed me, he would make a crane," she said. "He also showed me a photo album of me growing up. I don't know how he got the pictures. At the end of the album, there was a card, which said, 'Will you marry me?' "

They settled in New Jersey with their two daughters.

Although I didn’t know Mr. Kang, I know the importance of this professional work. From the World Trade Center, Cantor Fitzgerald played an important role in the finance world where the funding of the nation’s, indeed, the world’s economic activity – production, job creation, trade, and consumer acquisitions – is facilitated by the flow of investment assets to their most productive use. Cantor was the premier inter-dealer broker that in the course of its business provided the most accurate information to every fixed income (bond) professional.

Business funding, pension planning, and mortgage valuation, were all based on the information that Cantor provided. Cantor was an innovator in the electronic flow of information required to investment decisions. The information screens of Cantor monitored the most vital interest rates in the economy. It was the EKG monitoring the nation’s economic pulse.

I vividly remember September 11, 2001, as traders sat staring at their screens, the pulse stopped. At first everyone was puzzled and assumed it was a failure of our company's equipment – Cantor was always there and could always be depended on. Our communications officer (who would later serve a tour in Iraq) actually managed to get a call through to Cantor but could only hear the panic and disarray. It was on our over-head TV monitors that we first saw the pictures of the World Trade Center. The confusion and disbelief remained until the second tower was hit.

We may not have known the lives of the people who help us in our daily work – indeed, anyone who has a job, takes out a mortgage, or puts aside funds for retirement relies on the hard work of many anonymous but honest and decent people. It is of such people that civilization depends. We remember their lives; we remember their greatness. His sisters expressed it so simply, “Thank you for living your life to the fullest.”

We thank his sisters for sharing their memory of this quiet but noble gentleman and express our condolances.


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