On this 70th anniversary of D-Day, the 9/11 Memorial recognizes our founding Chairman, John C. Whitehead, with deep gratitude for his service to our country. Seventy years ago today, Whitehead, an ensign on the USS Thomas Jefferson, led five landing crafts through the beaches of Normandy. Humble and understated about his bravery in the midst of the unimaginable, and perhaps the biggest battle in our nation’s history, he is a true inspiration to all of us here at the Memorial.
After D-Day, Whitehead went on to lead his troops through other historic landings in Marseille, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. And when he returned home, he went on to become chairman of Goldman Sachs, the top deputy Secretary of State under President Reagan, and the leader of essential non-profit organizations like the International Rescue Committee. After 9/11, when Governor George Pataki sought someone to lead the monumental challenge of rebuilding of the World Trade Center site and lower Manhattan, he turned immediately to Whitehead. On the announcement of his agreement to serve as Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Whitehead said, “All New Yorkers have been asking what they can do to help. This is what I have been asked to do—and I have said, enthusiastically, ‘Yes.’”
Throughout his life, Whitehead has said “Yes” whenever he has been called upon to serve, whether in our military, the public sector, or the private. His love for New York City and our nation—and his willingness to take on the toughest challenges to protect and serve them—are boundless. As Mayor Bloomberg often extols, John Whitehead is truly a great American.
We thank you, Chairman Whitehead, for your leadership and sacrifice. And we thank you for leaving your mark, time and time again, on our country—making it a better place for all of us.
By Joe Daniels, President and CEO of the 9/11 Memorial