WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) hosted a 9/11 commemoration event this morning at the agency’s headquarters in Arlington, Va., to mark the 19th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, remember the victims and honor their families.
“September 11th was a traumatic day and a tragedy that continues to be felt by all Americans, including many TSA employees who were directly affected by the attacks and subsequently joined the newly-formed agency,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We continue to commemorate this day to comfort each other, to strengthen our resolve and to recommit ourselves to the mission entrusted to us by our fellow Americans. We also continue to aggressively adapt and mature as an agency in the face of new challenges. The pandemic has given us a renewed urgency in our pursuit of new solutions to enhance transportation security.”
TSA was created shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 to fulfill an urgent and vital need to secure the nation’s transportation systems. Pekoske pointed out that TSA has a great responsibility to its tens of thousands of screening officers, its Federal Air Marshals and all TSA employees as well as the traveling public to ensure that transportation systems remain secure, especially during the pandemic.
This year’s 9/11 commemoration ceremony at TSA headquarters was largely virtual as a result of COVID-19. The event’s keynote speaker, Robyn Towles, is the agency’s Director of Credentialing, Screening and Intelligence Acquisition in the Contracting and Procurement office.
“Just like this country shifted immediately after 9/11, we need to be resilient, strong, compassionate, agile and innovative to manage differently. Nineteen years have passed and thankfully most of our junior workforce does not have a 9/11 story because they were children in 2001. However, they will have a COVID-19 story that will impact and shape their lives to come. A new generation of leaders at TSA have emerged to take the lead and carry out TSA’s mission to protect the traveling public,” Towles said.
Towles’ own career was impacted by the events of 9/11. In 2008, she applied to work at TSA. She said it was a natural progression from supporting the Office of Domestic Preparedness at the Department of Justice before it was transferred under the newly established Department of Homeland Security in 2003. Towles set up the first suite of contracts for the Office of Domestic Preparedness’s training center at Anniston, Ala. At the time, the training center was the only live agent training facility for first responders in the United States.
The commemoration ceremony also spotlighted several TSA employees and their personal stories, showing how 9/11 impacted their personal and professional lives. As the ceremony came to a close, participants stood together and recited their recommitment to TSA’s mission to protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.