In Your Own Words - TSO Justine Waldron reflects on 9/11

Thursday, September 2, 2021
TSO Justine Waldron

As we approach the 20th anniversary of September 11, TSA would like to rekindle that national unity and remind the next generation about why we serve. We asked TSA employees to submit a personal essay on how 9/11 impacted them, and how that has translated to their service to country and commitment to the TSA mission.  You can view all essay submissions by visiting the TSA 9/11 iShare site from a TSA computer.

For many of us it was like yesterday. A nightmare with no ending. The images that cannot be unseen. Images that replay in our minds when the month of September and the day 11 come along; we remember 9/11. It was my senior year in high school and just like any other day, my mom was at work and my stepfather was finishing up his shift in Boston as a mechanic for United Airlines. I was in class at 8:46 a.m. when the news broke about a plane hitting the New York City World Trade Center; quickly the television in every classroom was blaring so loudly. Suddenly, on live news we all gasped at the image that was being broadcasted. An eerie echo throughout the school was heard as we watched United Airlines Flight 175 strike the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. It was at that moment I felt the eyes of my classmates upon me. I was wearing my United Airlines sweatshirt and there was utter silence. My friends knew and everyone knew, I was a child of that airline family community. As a senior in high school I was not ready to witness the horror fueled by hate that our country was under attack. The skies were silent and everyone was on alert in fear something else was going to happen. Airwaves were busy with people trying to make calls. The roads were empty and not a single child was outside playing.

The days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. And now we are coming up on the 20th anniversary of 9/11/2001 and together in memory this will be a national day of unity. The attacks resulted in the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on November 19, 2001. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act passed by the 107th Congress signed and established TSA. I remember thousands of people applying for TSA not because it was a job but because people were being resilient and it became a way to defend, protect, and prevent another terrorist attack from ever happening again on America’s soil. Since working for TSA, I’ve worked side by side with some outstanding officers who will never forget 9/11 and why we are here. TSA isn’t just an agency; it’s a brother and sisterhood bond that each and every one of us hold dear to our hearts. We are here for the mission and for those who lost their lives.

The saying “United We Stand” sticks with me every day as I put on my uniform and talk with other officers. We are reminded why we are here; we are here for the mission. Each officer has the utmost integrity. We stand tall with respect and have a commitment to ensure that we uphold why TSA was created, and to remember those who perished on 9/11. I remember, and we will never forget, we are serving our great nation. We all took an oath, and we are here to follow through with the mission. I stand by TSA’s mission to “protect the nation’s transportation system to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce” and with our core values of integrity, respect, and commitment. I am united. We are all united and we will never be divided by acts of terrorism in our homeland. I wear my uniform in honor of the 9/11 victims and continue the commitment of TSA’s mission in serving my country.

TSO Justine Waldron