justice-smiles-red-large.pngTen years ago our world changed … forever. Like many, I lost someone that day. The person that I lost was a friend. His name was Gordy Aamoth.

I want to reflect on Gordy’s life; what his loss has meant for me; and where, now that I am working in essentially the peace brokering business, I hope to propel his memory and that of everyone else that has been effected by 9/11. That means all of us!

Aamoth, Gordon McCannal Jr. 

I first knew Gordy in 4th grade. He quite fortunately had Mrs. Adams, a very pleasant and effective teacher. I, on the other hand, had a teacher who thought that I was the precurser of Bart Simpson. Almost every day, she required me to write out “I will” or “I will not” sentences. 

In middle school, Gordy and I did an immitation of Bob and Doug McKenzie which was pretty darn good. And as I reflect on it now, in eighth grade, after I had first been dropped off, Gordy continued on in a carpool in which he was blindsided by a police car in high chase while attempting to cross Xerxes Avenue [a name pulled from “over there” because streets ascend in alphabetical order in Minneapolis and … well you tell me if you have a LinkedIn contact filling the letter “X” catagory]. Most significantly though, I was privileged to letter in football as a highschool freshman with Gordy. The ballfield upon which we played is now named Aamoth Stadium in Gordy’s honor.

I moved away from Minneapolis after that freshman year. But, Gordy and I ended up at the Colorado College three years later. College is a little bit different than highschool. We had been out of touch those high school years and the newness of College, where it was hard enough to keep up with the comings and goings of newfound friends, meant that we didn’t spend as much time together as I now wish we had.

Notwithstanding, Gordy, who I am certain had also watched the movie Wall Street – see my previous post here – wanted to work on “The Street.” He set his sights on doing this and executed his plans. He left CC after his freshman year and went on to obtain some of the nation’s best undergraduate business training at Babson College. After graduation, he worked briefly in Minneapolis and then he “made it.” Gordy landed his opportunity on Wall Street!

Gordy was humming along pretty well in life. In fact, on September 10 he had just inked his largest deal. He went into work expecting nothing other than to celebrate his victory and get after the next one. But …

Gordy worked in the World Trade Center. Specifically, his office was on the 104th floor of the south tower. This was the second of the WTC towers struck. Gordy was allowed a brief opportunity to contact his family. It is my understanding that he indicated that everything was fine, but then said that he was being told to go to the roof. Then, the building collapsed.

Zierman, Robert Walter

The date 2001.09.11 is a very complex and interesting day and date for me. I have a close family member whose birthdate is now mared by the events of that date. Yet, wonderfully, despite all the death and destruction of that date, I saw my first born child in utero!

The immediate aftermath saw a time when America largely pulled together. And considering that Gore v. Bush was still being digested, America needed a chance to be together. Unfortunately, this “togetherness” did not fully encircle all Americans – it still doesn’t. We shall see about addressing this.

At any rate, not too terribly long after the vigils, a memorial service was to be held to honor the life of Gordy. I wanted to attend. But, my boss of a job that I despised disallowed me the time off. So, it dawned on me.

AAMOTH, who had been living the life of his dreams, was DEAD!

ZIERMAN, who couldn’t stand what he was doing with his life, was ALIVE!

I decided to pursue a long dormant highschool dream of becoming a lawyer. And with the gracious help of my wife, who is the mother of our two children, and family I graduated in an accelarated 2.5 years. I will tell you that though it was not at all easy, those were some if not the very happiest years of my life.

Now, I am not going to claim that life was pure bliss thereafter. Far from it. Hurt can be an important life experience too. What do I mean by this? Well, upon graduation, like so many law graduates now, I was having a hard time finding a job. So, I thought, since I do have a China background, why not look overseas. I was successful in obtaining a job. But, after 5 quarters in it and another quarter attempting a partnership, I came back to the States from China with more knowledge than most Westerners about the ins and outs of Chinese business culture, but I realized I simply couldn’t use it. The “pragmatic flexibility” of China business is a code, which though I understand, is too foreign for me to adopt.

So, here I had just flunked out of China and I was turning 40 and needing to essentially redirect my career if not entire life. I was struck by a crippling mid-life crisis. Making matters worse this all happened just prior to September 2008 – the month that the Great Recession started. So yes, even though I hurt alot, Gordy, and the roughly three thousand others that died ten years ago today, no longer have that opportunity and the freedom to work through and out of their pain.

Alpha Omega Foundation for World Peace & Prosperity

Gordy was always at the front of the line. I was always at the back. But the reality is that we are all connected in life’s circles. Believe it or not, most budding lawyers don’t start out thinking exclusively about all the lucre that their skills will bring them. Instead, most want to make an impact. This generally means increasing the welfare of “the last, the lost, and the least”; helping to make the world more “just”; or some combination of both.

So, in fairness to those that get to the otherside of lawschool and become practicing attorneys, despite the general negative perception about lawyers, acknowledge that most get up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror and want to know that they are making these contributions. At least I have to presume this is the case, there are much easier ways in which to make money … believe me!

Unfortunately, in order to be able to get to justice we have to first find truth. And the process by which we find truth in our jurisprudential systeme can be so abusive that it obliterates opportunities for peace. I don’t know how to correct that, but I don’t like it either.

Destroying something, even as strong as the Twin Towers, can take minutes. Whereas it can take years to build up those same structures. This is the way it is with both neighborly relations and peace. Both can take an incredibly long time to develop and yet both can also be destroyed almost instantaneously. I have both witnessed this and experienced it.

My time in China taught me how incredibly interconnected we are as a world. We need eachother. We need peace. To the extent that my work assists in bringing about peace, though the effort is often Herculean, I find it incredibly satisfying.

I find myself in the position of guiding people away from their irrational negative, yet very valid, fealings to a point where they can reasonably sort out their issues. This takes both emotional and intellectual fortitude on everyone’s part.

Yet, this simply is not enough. This is sorting out issues conflict by conflict. I wish I could ascribe the quote properly, yet will nonetheless offer it: “For every thousand people hacking at the leaves of evil, perhaps there is one who hacks at the root.” What I am now realizing is that I don’t want to spend all of my time “hacking” either part of the evil tree.

Instead, I want to plant and nurish with you and others the tree of peace. Doing so seems polyanish only to those that have no clue what peace is. So, let’s teach them. Let’s peacefully teach peace.

In Gordy’s name, in Your name, for the world that we live in and will pass to our children, I, Robert Walter Zierman, today plant the seed of peace by announcing my desire, and hopefully yours as well, to create the Alpha Omega Foundation for World Peace & Prosperity.