As the nation marks 20 years since the devastating attacks on September 11, Max Giaccone '14 shares how his journey of grief and growth has evolved since losing his father in New York City on that day in 2001.
September 8, 2021
Max Giaccone’s father, Joseph, was the director of global infrastructure at Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial services firm, on September 11, 2001. The firm’s corporate headquarters was located at One World Trade Center in Manhattan. The day the towers fell, the younger Giaccone was in fifth grade and only 10 years old.
As he mourned and worked through his grief with his family, he says he latched on to different passions of his father’s, such as music, which would ultimately lead him to the University of New Haven to study music industry. Giaccone credits the arts, and specifically music, with helping him heal.
“Music can be a simple escape from reality,” he said. “You can put yourself in the songwriter’s shoes and run away for a bit if you need to. I think songs have a way of communicating and expressing your emotions better than most things. I think songs tend to have the words you’re looking for when you don’t.
“When those milestones come up it is always a stark reminder of who is not there,” Giaccone continued.
'I had a pretty awesome dad'
Giaccone says back in 2011, on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, he was “just branching into the beginning stages of adulthood,” as he was about to turn 21, graduate from college, and more.
“I was trying to figure out who I was as a person, while still never really dealing with the trauma of losing my father in such a public way,” Giaccone says. “I put a lot of band-aids on those wounds, but I never truly addressed them.”
On 9/11/2011, he was interviewed by Katie Couric on Good Morning America. Months earlier, shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed, Giaccone wrote an essay for Newsweek reflecting on 9/11 and his emotions since.
In 2021, he says he’s in a better place, and, for him, the memories are easier to revisit.
“I just recently went back to a bunch of home videos and was able to get through them, and they allowed me to reconnect in a way. I saw my father’s goofy, funny side. I saw the way he interacted with me and my sister. It just kind of reinforced a lot of what I have known all along, which is that I had a pretty awesome dad.”
'There truly is not a day that goes by that I don't think about him'
Giaccone, a NYC-based events producer for the entertainment, sports, and music industries who has worked such high-profile events as the Super Bowl and the men’s college basketball final four, says there are times where the emotions can still sting, though.
“Especially when we get to this point in the year, but I am doing my best to celebrate his life and his memory at this point, rather than mourn the loss of him,” he said.
Giaccone says he takes some time every year to post something personal about September 11. He wants people to understand it is more than just an “always remember, never forget #9/11” sort of post for him, and many others.
He also stresses the importance of not taking for granted any time with loved ones. Giaccone says he and the more than 3,000 other families who lost someone in the attacks that day “are living proof that something you cherish the most can be taken from you so quickly.” He reminds others to tell the people in their lives they love them, whether via phone call, text message, email, or any other available means.
"I’d give anything in the world to have five more minutes with my dad,” he said. “There truly is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and wish I had the chance to talk to him."