In Your Own Words - TSO Rafael Gil Reyes reflects on 9/11

Wednesday, September 1, 2021
TSO Rafael Gil Reyes reflects on 9/11 photo

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.

The terrorist attacks of September 11th has forever changed our lives. It is an unforgettable day that has impacted us in different ways. The changes that it has brought forth can be seen in transportation systems, the military and even police work. This horrendous event is what drew me into having the calling of serving to the country and committed to the TSA mission.

When the Twin Towers got attacked I was in a 9th grade class. I remember my dad working in one of the towers. I suddenly feared for his life. Soon after, my mom picked my twin brother and I from school and drove us home. It was shortly after that we received a phone call from my dad that he was fine but had been escorted to a New Jersey’s hospital to be checked out as he was still in shock with high blood pressure and filled with the building’s rubble dust as it had just collapsed.

A couple of years later my mom had a calling and joined the Navy. Shortly after she became part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. My mom is my hero and I remember thinking that I also wanted to serve my country and have a job that is part of the greater good. Fast forward to a decade later, I joined the New York Guard where I have been serving ever since and been deployed to several missions including a COVID mission recently.

The sense of serving to the country did not stop there and this is the mere reason why I joined TSA and joined the National Deployment Force, in which I get to work in different airports. As a Transportation Security Officer, I am one of the barriers that stops passengers from bringing illicit items such as explosives into airplanes. The terrorism threat is real and this is where integrity and commitment comes into play. I am committed to TSA’s mission to safeguard our transportation’s systems and doing the job to the best of my ability with integrity to not allow prohibited items go past the checkpoint.

For those of us that have served or continue serving the country, it is indeed a special calling. We may do it for a numerous of reasons but the main reason is to safeguard the nation from threats and protect our freedoms. Serving the country may mean being away from home or being in stressful situations. One thing remains true; we serve for the love of the country.

Very Respectfully,

Rafael Gil Reyes, M.S.
Transportation Security Officer, ORF