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.
On a warm night in August 2002, the phone rang. I was being called to officially be sworn in with the Transportation Security Administration.
This was a new horizon, a new agency and what would become an entirely new norm for commercial air travel. I remember sitting in a huge banquet hall for hours going over protocols, paperwork and the ins and out of service we needed to be ready for in the coming days. At the end of the paperwork, Ike Richardson spoke of the World Trade Towers. He spoke of when the towers fell, America stood up and went to the aid of New York City. At the end of his speech, he said, “America’s calling again. Rise and repeat after me” and we were sworn in.
I cannot express how that short speech affected me, but this person motivated a room in moments.
It was 2006; 11:37 p.m. Once again the phone rang, and we were told of a newly discovered terrorist plot in the United Kingdom. We had 90 minutes to report into the war room.
Within 60 minutes, we learned of the liquid ban that would be going into effect within hours and how everything was going to change and how we would prepare. Current Federal Security Director (FSD) Mike Zunk, came into the room and explained how these are the defining moments of an agency. In his speech, he said “This is why we stood up.” Again – people in the room were ready to go.
During my almost four years at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), we had multiple scenario’s that demanded us to perform at a high level. During that time, we experienced the print toner plot. Security Operations Executive Assistant Administrator, then LAX FSD, Darby LaJoye echoed the words I’ve heard over my 19 years. “This is why we stand,” and there was no mission other than the safety of the United States and the traveling public.
Though we have all come from different walks of life, experiences and back grounds, we all, at one time in our federal service, have had one thing in common. We stood up when the call came.
There is no greater feeling of pride in federal service than protecting your fellow American.
Supervisory Transportation Security Officer
O’Hare International Airport - ORD