Transcript: Inspired by Tragedy

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 9, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You know, on 9/11, his firm lost 658 employees, including his own brother. On Monday, Howard Lutnick, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, is taking the lead, when his firm will donate 100 percent of its commissions that day, 50 percent directly to families of those injured or lost in Hurricane Katrina and 50 percent to the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.

Howard Lutnick, good to have you.


CAVUTO: That's very generous.

LUTNICK: Well, you know, after what we have been through, we committed in rebuilding the company to take care of our families. And it has been four years on. And when talking to those families of what they thought the best thing to do was, was they said, we were shown so much love and affection after 9/11. Let's be there for the families down in the Gulf Coast and take care of the families who have lost loved ones. So, we will be there as well.

CAVUTO: We're going to run through some full screens of where and how you can participate in this and what you're up to.

But one of things that strikes me is the difficult time this has to be happening. For you, it's the fourth anniversary of losing your brother and so many friends and colleagues and workers at your firm, and then this hurricane.

LUTNICK: Right. Well, we have our anniversary memorial at Central Park this Sunday, the 11th. And, really, watching all those pictures in the media and on television and on your show, you know, it cuts right back to that spot and breaks your heart yet again.

So, it reinvigorates you to say, look, we're here and we need to help. And that's, I think, the feeling pouring out of America. And it's one of the things that makes America so great.

CAVUTO: How much money have you raised, Howard, in just your own fund for the families of those victims from 9/11?

LUTNICK: Well, we started out by donating 25 percent of our profits, because, if you think about our employee, we lost 658 people out of just under 1,000. I mean, to get those employees to come back to work, the reason to come back to work was to help the families of those we lost.

And that 25 percent has been over $160 million so far. And we're still going. And now the relief fund that we have set up, there are no expenses. Every dollar that goes in goes to the families. So, that's why we know what we're good at, unfortunately, is taking care of families who have lost loved ones. And that's what we are planning to do.

CAVUTO: If you were a publicly traded entity, you couldn't be so generous? What do you say?

LUTNICK: I think the reason that we're successful and the reason we came back after 9/11 is that we knew what would drive ourselves and our employees, which was, you have to take care of your friends and family, especially when they have gone through such horrible events.

And once you've been there and your heart has been so broken, you can now really understand what other people go through.

CAVUTO: You know, Howard, I talked to many of those who survived 9/11. And they have a tough time this time of year when those images are replayed again, the planes hitting the towers. And you see that and see your brother gone. You see hundreds of your friends and colleagues gone. Does it bother you to see those images?

LUTNICK: You know, that part of our life stays with us. It will never go away. It doesn't define who we are going forward, but it's a part of us. And we all know that one of the things about remembering our friends — last night, one of my friends had a memorial mass. I mean, it's sad, but you also smile, think of stories, tell friends and neighbors stories about people. It keeps them alive and keeps them fresh. And it is, of course, a very tough time of year. But you have got to look at what makes you smile, which is the memories of your friends.

CAVUTO: So, you think it's important to still see those images? The reason why I mention it to you, Howard, is that there are other victims' families who have come out saying, we have buried this. We don't like to show any of the unpleasantness of that day. So, that bothers them that some Americans are forgetting that day and the brutality of it. What do you say?

LUTNICK: Well, I think that's true.

I mean, of course, it's good to keep it fresh, to remember what happened to us, so that we never take our guard down. But we also have seen that people have learned that, when something bad happens, like Katrina, people now know, all right, let's spring into action. Let's go give. Let's take care of people. Let's feel good about ourselves because something bad is happening.

And I think that's part of what's improving in America and what's improved since 9/11, that we have all learned.

CAVUTO: One thing that maybe — and I will end here — that maybe has not improved, and maybe this is where the link between this hurricane and 9/11 come in, in common, is that we still find ourselves woefully unprepared when everything hits the proverbial fan.

Does that bother you, or is just that this was of such a magnitude, the storm, that it was night and day from 9/11?

LUTNICK: Well, I try not to blame someone. I mean, the terrorists came to hit Americans. They didn't really come to hit Cantor Fitzgerald. I mean, they did, but they didn't intend to. So, I tend to think that people are doing their darndest out there. And they make mistakes. We all make them. You know, I'm not going to point blame at anyone in particular for making that mistake.

CAVUTO: So, when you see all these recriminations about what agencies knew before 9/11 and what they didn't know or didn't share, there's no bitterness, no anger?

LUTNICK: Well, to say that it doesn't cut right to you, of course it does. But to say this person should have done this or that or the other thing, I mean, there may have been 100 good things that they did that saved other people in other firms. They missed that one. I don't know that I can actually say, if they had changed it, whether the plot wouldn't have hit someone else instead.

CAVUTO: All right.

Howard Lutnick, thank you very much. Howard is the CEO, the chairman of Cantor Fitzgerald, a firm that looked like it was devastated and gone, back in a strong way and a generous way.

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