The breaking news of Osama bin Laden’s death is bringing back fresh memories of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 for many people. It’s a time to remember again some of the great lives lost that day. For my part, I remember Danny Lewin.
Danny was co-founder and CTO of Akamai Technologies. I met him on a few occasions during an internship I did at Akamai in the summer of 2000. He was smart and confident, and I looked up to him. I still remember how he would frown and say, “Unclear to me”, when he wasn’t yet sure what he thought of an issue. That made an impression on me, and still stands for me as an illustration of intellectual honesty.
Danny was tall and imposing, built like a linebacker. He was also Israeli, and like many Israelis, he had served in the Israel Defense Forces—in fact, he was in Sayeret Matkal, an elite special-forces unit specializing in counter-terrorism. So when I heard that he had been on one of the planes that was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, I had to believe that he had fought them. Danny—strong, confident, a man of action—wouldn’t have taken a direct attack sitting down, and wouldn’t have been afraid to confront the danger head-on. Re-reading his bio this evening, I found my confirmation. Based on the testimony of a stewardess, who made a phone call from the plane in flight, it is reported that he was stabbed by hijacker Satam al-Suqami as he tried to foil the hijacking—making him the first victim of September 11.
I moved to NYC in June 2001, so I had been there less than three months when the attacks hit. I was only 21, and the events turned my world upside down. I was stunned the entire day, in shock, unable to process everything that was happening. But that evening, when I read the news of Danny’s death, everything hit me all at once. For the first time that day, I cried.
Danny, I shed another tear for you today. We remember you and we miss you.