One Year Later : My Thoughts<br>
Growing up, my family took a couple of trips on commercial airlines. In the few times I had flown, I had never not felt safe.
That changed the first time I prepared to fly home after the attacks on September 11th.
I had made reservations on September 9th to travel home to Texas for Christmas. After the attacks, I was told to arrive at Flagstaff’s Puliam Airport two hours early to go through security.
I went through the security checkpoint by walking through a metal detector and placing my carry-on bag on the x-ray conveyor belt. The first difference I noticed was the person watching the x-ray monitor actually stopped each bag and really looked at the image. Bags didn’t just roll through with only a glance like they had in the past.
To my left was the second change, and this change was a little unnerving. There was a camoflauged guardsman with an automatic rifle, or some other powerful gun, watching my every move. The hair on my neck and arms stood up when he nodded what I assumed was a “hello” to me as I went through the detector and picked up my bag off the conveyor belt.
Once boarding began, the attendants announced a few people would be randomly selected for further security checking.
Out of the 30 passengers, they picked only one young, white woman wearing blue jeans and a sweater, with her hair braided like a small child’s. That young woman was me.
It was weird watching my carry-on bag being emptied and then repacked and my cd album being searched, all while I was being patted down and “wanded” by a female security officer. It was a good thing the guardsman with the gun had let his weapon drop from his hands or that would have been too much to take.
Once I got to the plane, which had been boarded by the other 29 people on the flight, I walked up the stairs to see people staring at me with wide eyes.
Being the jokester I am, I raised my hands and told them not to worry, they were all going to be safe. Laughter arose from my fellow passengers, but it was a nervous laughter. You could feel the tension in the plane.
Once we landed at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, I didn’t have to go through security again in order to get on my flight to Houston.
Overall, that trip was the first time I had ever thought about my safety while flying. I never imagined I would have to worry about being hijacked, I just imagined if I died on a plane, it would be in a firey crash.
In just six short months, I once again took to the air and headed back to Houston for a vacation. Not even one year after the September 11th attacks and security was once again relaxed.
When I got to Sky Harbor Airport, I didn’t have to show my driver’s license to pick up my tickets or check my bags. I used a self-check-in that required only my flight information and my credit card.
Once I had my ticket, I passed through security quickly and easily and headed to my terminal. The first time someone asked to see my identification was when I was actually boarding the aircraft.
The officers did pull a few people for further security checking before this flight took off.
The day I flew to Houston was the day the guy with the bomb in his shoes attempted to detonate it over the Atlantic Ocean. The only difference on the way back to Phoenix was I was asked to please remove my flip-flops and show the security guard the bottom of my shoes.
It seems like the worst and, somehow, the best thing that came out of the September 11th attacks was America’s loss of security. It was a horrible thing for us to loose, but I believe it did us some good.
For decades, we’ve been thinking we are untouchable, but in the short time-span it took to crash three planes into U.S. structures, we were stripped of that sense of safety.
Now, a year later, I can sense that security returning. We have started rebuilding the brick wall that keeps us safe.
The difference is that this time we are leaving some peep holes throughout the structure. We want to have a glimpse at the outside world to make sure no one will threaten our security again. We want look-out points throughout the wall.
I think the terrorists who tried to shake us to our cores did exactly the opposite. They startled us, scared us a little, but they united a country stronger than any other in the world. They united a force that is determined to continue our way of life.
But more importantly, they gave us a much-needed wake-up call. And when we opened our eyes, we saw the world the way it truly is.
Not necessarily a safe-haven, and not a place where terror runs rampid, but a place of turmoil and tribulations in which we must continue to survive and spread the freedoms we enjoy.
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