Today marks the five-year anniversary of American Airlines Flight 11's collision with the World Trade Center. Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) co-founder Danny Lewin was one of those aboard the plane.

"Danny's spirit and energy remain strong in all of us at Akamai," reads the homage to the company's visionary at the home page today. It's part of a longer-standing tribute that the company has dedicated to the young founder, who died when he was only 31 years old.

Clearly, Akamai wasn't the hardest-hit company that day. Cantor Fitzgerald and its eSpeed (NASDAQ:ESPD) trading arm lost hundreds of employees. Naturally, the AMR (NYSE:AMR) and United families also suffered great losses.

Lewin's story is one that's worth repeating, though. In a strange tribute to his vision, his passing helped cement the company's future.

Akamai was created as a way to help dispense online data securely and quickly. The Internet was far from dependable before Akamai arrived, and Sept. 11 proved to be an ironic model-validating day, as the world flocked to the Internet to get the latest information on the day's terrorist attacks. Traffic through Akamai's servers spiked threefold that day, and it hasn't stopped coming.

Since then, more and more companies have come to rely on Akamai to deliver the goods. From Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its digital downloads to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) software updates to XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) and its Internet streaming service, Akamai has been a reliable enabler.

The market has noticed. Five years ago, Akamai shares traded for less than $3. Today they closed at a five-year high, soaring roughly 15-fold in that time.

Every life that was lost on 9/11 was special. No one can argue otherwise. In Lewin's case, the life of a visionary was taken prematurely. But Lewin's vision has only been vindicated -- brighter, sharper, and louder -- with every passing year.

Akamai shares have soared 248% since being recommended toRule Breakersnewsletter service subscribers last year. XM is also a pick in the newsletter, and Microsoft is anInside Valueselection. eSpeed was a former Hidden Gems pick.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has good reasons to pay respect to those who died that day. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.TheFool has a disclosure policy.