No American company suffered a greater loss on September 11th than Cantor Fitzgerald. The financial services firm lost 658 employees -- nearly all of its New York-based staff.
And the firm's chairman and CEO said on "The Early Show" Monday his first reaction to news of Osama bin Laden's death was to "exhale."
Howard Lutnick, who lost his brother on 9/11, told co-anchor Chris Wragge he'd been "waiting for this for a long time I mean, the guy got away for 10 years with killing my brother, and 658 of the people who worked with me. And I know their families really well. And it was time. And I'm glad we got him.
"I was afraid at first that maybe he died of cancer, which sort of would have left a big open sore there. But at least we got him."
Can bin Laden's death provide any kind of closure for the families who lost loved ones?
"Well," Lutnick replied, "you just don't like someone, especially with, you know, his big statements on TV, getting away with it, and sort of making himself look so good, and so it was good the U.S. got him. It was good the way they got him. When I was having a talk with my children this morning and they were asking, 'What does it mean?' I said, 'Look, the American military, we found him.' They did a spectacular job finding him. And then he fought back, and you know what happens to criminals when they fight back. They end up where he ended up."
Since the news of bin Laden's death circulated, Lutnick said, he's spoken with many families affected by the 9/11 tragedy.
"Last night, my phone was on fire, people calling and talking," he said. "And you know, look, it's been a very, very tough ten years. But, you know, that period's now -- you know, at least it ends with Osama bin Laden getting killed, and now, you know, we got to talk, and say, 'You know, it just brings up lots of memories.' You know, they're going to show on all 9/11 things today, so sort of today, we'll have that feeling of a 9/11 day, which brings those families to a tough spot."
With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, Lutnick said bin Laden's death "helps" shape the American viewpoint on the day's events.
He explained, "At least there's something that says, the guy who did this to us didn't get away with it. But the fact is, you know, the families -- you never can replace a loved one. Your life goes on, but it's different. Especially parents. Parents who lost a child, there's just nothing for all of us who have children, there's nothing that would change that. And doesn't matter how old they are, doesn't change it. So, the 10-year anniversary will be a day we get together. We'll spend the day together."
Lutnick said his company has a day when all employees of Cantor Fitzgerald donate all of their commissions to charity. He said last year, the company raised $12 million to support the families affected by the attacks.
Lutnick said, "You remember the feeling on September 11th that (everyone) felt which is, 'I'd like to help. Is there something I can do to help?' And for the employees who remained, the key to help was to take care of the families of those we lost. We committed 25 percent of our profits for five years to those people, to the 658 families we lost. And then we had to make money. If we didn't make money, what would be the point of that promise? We raised $180 million for those families. We paid for their health care, we paid for their health care, still. And they're part of our family. So it was sort of the rallying cry. The same thing that you felt that imagine being us. You would do it 10 times harder, and you know, we've hired thousands of people, 1,500 people from New York now, and we were down to after 9/11, we got all the way down to 150 people. So we've hire a lot of people. We brought it back. And I'm really, really proud of the partners of Cantor Fitzgerald. We have a public company BGC partners, which has done unbelievably well, as well."
Lutnick said he'd always hoped he'd see the day of bin Laden's death.
"After awhile, 10 years, you start thinking that -- my fear was not that he would die, but that he would die of natural causes and sort of act like he'd gotten away with it. Finally, it's here. I want to thank the military and the CIA, you know, for all their work. You know, people don't give credit to the leaders of Congress. You know, someone's got to pay for all these people going after this guy, and not stopping. Two years ago, they were still looking for him. And I think all of America, you saw today, all of America's really, really thankful for all of that work."