Marsh Los Angeles

In Memory of the Insurance Industry Victims

All photos © Drunell Levinson. All rights reserved.

This quilt names and commemorates over 500 people connected with the insurance industry who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. The world's largest insurance brokerages had extensive operations in the twin towers: Marsh in the north tower, Aon in the south, both above the 90th floor. The first plane tore directly into the Marsh offices, and not a single occupant of these floors survived. Aon's offices were above the impact point of the second plane, and after the first attack, many Aon colleagues were on the 78th floor of the south tower awaiting the escape elevators when the wing of Flight 175 scythed through the assembled workers. Several insurance companies also had offices in the World Trade Center, and a number of people from other risk services related businesses were visiting offices in the towers; while many on the lower floors managed to survive by leaving the buildings quickly, the loss of life in the insurance industry was substantial and heartrending.

The people named on this quilt represented more than 15 insurers and brokers and a number of consulting firms, clients, and support services, though company affiliations are not included on the quilt; the focus is on the person, not the firm. These people were not members of the armed forces, nor were they emergency response personnel, and they had no idea that they were destined to be embroiled in a terrorist offensive. One mother summed it up: "My daughter did not have 'hero' in her job description." They were brokers and risk managers and underwriters and claims adjusters, computer trainers and technicians and programmers and accountants, file clerks and statisticians and investment managers and risk consultants. A majority of them had worked in the insurance industry for some time. Many of them had been involved in disaster response planning and "maximum possible loss" scenarios. They never envisioned a disaster such as this.

They were grandmothers and grandfathers, longtime companions and domestic partners, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and parents – parents of hundreds of children. They ranged in age from 21 to 68, with an average age of 38. They hailed from all parts of America and from many different countries and cultures. Their families and friends tried desperately to locate them, and when all hope was gone, they and we mourned them. They represented a cross section of American society, and America is the poorer for their loss.

The quilt evokes the twin towers and the people inside, standing tall and colourful on that sun-splashed morning. When possible, the quilted and embroidered designs have been selected to represent some aspect of the person's life or interests, and everyone on here has his or her own motif. Some of the border squares have been left unquilted deliberately, representing all the lives interrupted that day: the songs unsung, the journeys not made, the children unborn.

We remember them all.

Quilt designed, pieced, and quilted by many colleagues of the Los Angeles office of Marsh.

Marsh Los Angeles          

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