Remembering our past, securing our future

Friday, November 12, 2021
Veronica Bower

On November 19, TSA will celebrate its 20th anniversary. To recognize this milestone, we asked TSA employees to share their memories from the past 20 years.

My personal TSA memory was at Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). I had gone to the bathroom on September 11, 2020 and saw a passenger in distress. I asked her if she was alright and tried to calm her down. I discovered all she needed was someone to listen to her story about her tragic loss of friends who were in both towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

She was catching a flight to visit the graves of the seven friends who perished; one was a high school friend she had known for 35 years. She suffered multiple health issues with depression, mental issues, and complete loneliness without her best friend.

She explained her friend had been suffering with breast cancer, recently had a heart attack and within the previous year, lost her husband unexpectedly in a tragic accident. The friend was overwhelmed with her own health issues but always held a strong attitude of being positive and always supporting of those around her.

On September 11, 2001, the woman expected to be in the towers bringing her best friend breakfast, but because of a bad headache that morning, she called and told her she didn't feel good and asked if she could take her friend breakfast the next morning.  “Of course”, her friend said. “No problem.”  As she hung up, her best friend said to her, "Don't stress about it, life goes on and I will always love you." Those were the last words she spoke to her friend.

I hugged the woman and told her life DOES go on and we should always love each other, no matter what! She cried as she shared this story to a stranger such as me, but the timing for us was rewarding.

She also took the time to say "Thank You" for what we do as Officers to keep our public safe and because of TSA, she feels safe and secure to fly. Now I was the one crying! I asked her name and she said “Veronica.”

Fate as it was!

Veronica Bower

Transportation Security Officer
Jacksonville International Airport - JAX