Like all Americans, the events of September 11, 2001 are indelibly seared into my memory. I was a jumbled mix of swirling emotions – shock, outrage, anger, and yes, fear for what might happen next. But perhaps what stands out most was the anguish I felt when I saw the towers collapse, and grief for the thousands of innocent lives I just witnessed being extinguished.
As a lifelong Midwesterner, I had no personal connections to those who perished that day in Manhattan or the Pentagon or Shanksville. My sorrow was genuine, but unfocused. It was only a month or so later, when reading a list of the victims, that I received my real gutwrenching stab of pain. I noticed that one of the citizens who died that day was James Patrick Ladley. You must first understand that while I can trace my Ladley heritage back to 1700's Virginia, there are surprisingly few people in the United States who share that surname. There are only three in the Kansas City area of nearly 2 million residents, and they are me, my wife and my mother.
When I saw James Patrick Ladley's name, it all came home. I had never known of his existence, but I knew he was in some way a part of me. It became personal. I would like to tell you a little of James, and what the world, and most importantly his family, lost that horrific day. I pray that his wife Sheri, son James and daughter Elizabeth will be honored by what I can infer from what I've learned.
From all I can gather, James (or Jim,or Jimmy,or Jimbo to his family and friends) was part of a large Irish Catholic clan of New Yorkers. The oldest of 5, he was obviously a hero to his younger brothers and sisters. A star athlete in baseball and basketball, he earned a baseball scholarship to North Adams State in Massachusetts, and graduated with a business degree 4 years later. Starting at the very bottom of the corporate ladder, he had a meteoric rise to become a Cantor Fitzgerald partner in his mid-30's. He was successful enough that he could contemplate an early retirement in a matter of years.
It's pretty obvious from the impressive resume he left that Jim was a talented, competitive and focused individual. You don't become a Cantor Fitzgerald partner before you're 40 without an excess of talent,drive and discipline. Early to rise, he was at the European desk before the rest of Manhattan was even awake. Even so, he was always home for dinner with his family. From what I've read, he was a man universally loved and respected for his integrity, wisdom and judgement. I've come to think of him as the kind of cousin I could brag about for his incredible achievements. It's a rare man who can balance that kind of corporate success and still keep his priorities in order. Jim was in his office on the 104th floor of the North Tower, doing what he always did - on the phone with a broker when the unthinkable happened. That was the last contact anyone had with Jim, but I'm confident his last thoughts were for his family and friends.I'm sorry I'll never get the opportunity to meet Jim in this life, but to his family and friends, I want you to know it has been a privilege to become acquainted with him as a result of this project. Please know that all who perished that day, and most especially Jimmy, will be forever honored and remembered by this distant relative in the Heartland of America.
Delegate Mike Watson, A great Legislator
5 years ago