I’m in New York City today, the 11th anniversary of September 11th  and I wanted to share something that made me smile (and cry) that I learned more about.

The memorial that now exists with the names of those who died that day is moving in so many ways – and one of the simplest and most complicated it the algorithm they created so that the names of the people connect to the names around them. I love that this was thought about, it would have been so simple to revert to alphabetical order. This is so much more – this shows the human connection – and to me, shows that they were so much more than names. They were people with stories and connections.

From the Fast Company blog:

“On that terrible morning, when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Victor Wald, 50, was working in his 84th floor office at the small brokerage firm, Avalon Partners. Like his colleagues, he raced for the exits, and scrambled down the stairs. But, having suffered from rheumatic fever as a child, he collapsed in exhaustion on the 53rd floor, as frantic workers from the building’s upper floors hastily passed him by. Harry Ramos, 46, the head trader at the small investment bank, May Davis Group, who worked on the 87th floor, saw him on the stairs, and stopped.

They had never met, had no friends or relatives in common. But Ramos saw Wald and said, “I won’t leave you.” Ramos managed to coax Wald down to the 36th floor, where they sat together as the building collapsed.

“I won’t leave you,” he said. Minutes later, the two died.

When they designed the memorial it was ensured that the two friends? names will be inscribed next to each other on the granite wall surrounding the Memorial Garden’s fountains.

Their adjacency is product of a masterful bit of programming undertaken by the New York media design firm Local Projects, which took 1,800 requests from families of the 3,500 9/11 victims, and created an algorithm that let them be grouped by affinity: firefighters with firefighters, cops with cops, all the members of each of the flights, first responders, or just pals.

Watch the video below to learn more – but the most important thing that can be learned is to remember that:

“It’s the connections in our lives that matter the most” – Joe Daniels 9/11 Memorial President

Read the whole story (and much better than I can tell it) here.