Bob Buckley for The Examiner: What is the Value of One Human Life?

September 28, 2021

Bob Buckley, partner at White, Graham, Buckley & Carr, is a regular columnist for The Examiner of East Jackson County. In his latest column, Buckley reflects upon two events that stand out in his lifetime and his internal struggle on placing a dollar amount on a life.

The article, What is the Value of One Human Life?, was published in the September 18th edition of The Examiner. An excerpt from the article is below.

I hope everyone took some time last Saturday to reflect on the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

There are two events in my personal history that I remember vividly. I do not have vivid recollections of much of my childhood, but I remember very well the day that President Kennedy was shot in 1963. I was in the sixth grade at Bryant Elementary School. It was a cloudy November day, and I remember that we were sent home from school without much understanding of the magnitude of what had happened. It was a time of great sadness.

Almost 38 years later, we all witnessed the horror of 9/11, and I suspect that we all remember the exact moment we became aware that the first plane struck the first tower at the World Trade Center. I was in my law office on 42nd Street and we all gathered around the television in the conference room to watch the horrific events of the day unfold. President Kennedy’s assassination was an unspeakable tragedy. Yet, that event did not change America like the events of 9/11.

The country came together in unity after 9/11 like no other time since World War II. Unfortunately, the unity has disappeared. The sadness from that day has never left most of us. The stories that have been told are firmly planted in our memories.

One of the most powerful stories at the time was of Richard Rescorla, a Vietnam War hero who was a private security specialist for Stanley Dean Witter & Company and is credited with leading 2,700 employees to safety on 9/11, only to lose his life when he went back to make sure everyone had left the building. Rescorla had feared the possibility of the exact scenario that occurred and had led the 2,700 employees of his employer on drills every three months in anticipation of an emergency evacuation. Those drills saved the lives of everyone except Rescorla.

Last Saturday, I re-read an article about Rescorla from The New Yorker magazine that was published in 2002. It was a lengthy article, but worth every second. Rescorla was an immigrant from England. He is not depicted in the Mel Gibson movie, “We Were Soldiers,” but the co-author of the book that led to the making of the movie, General Hal Moore, described Rescorla as “the best platoon leader I ever saw”. The members of his platoon nicknamed him “Hard Core,” for his bravery in battle and compassion toward his men. His bravery and compassion 20 years ago are beyond extraordinary.