September 11, 2022

I tried to listen to this book this year. I thought after 21 years, I would be able to get through it. I managed to make it about a third of the way through before I had to stop. After more than two decades, it’s still unbelievable, terrifying and sad.

I don’t know anyone who died in those attacks and I wasn’t living in New York or Washington D.C. at the time. Yet, it still makes me angry. I can’t imagine what people in the Twin Towers were thinking as they soon realized there was no way out. Or the passengers on the doomed planes as they sat and waited for their plane to crash. I got about a third of the way through and couldn’t listen anymore.

Here’s a new perspective I read on NPR’s Story Corp – one of the agents who checked in two of the terrorists, not knowing in a few hours, the worst day in US history would unfold. He followed all the correct procedures (security was nothing like it is today), yet the next day that entire airplane of people (and 2,900 others) were gone forever.

In the weeks and months following, airline security ramped up and now passengers were required to remove their shoes when going through airport security. Later, security tightened more with liquids limited to no more than 3 oz. Liquids also had to be placed outside your bag when you go through the security x-ray.

In November 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to help keep air travel safe. A year later, the Department of Homeland Security was formed to protect the United States from terrorists. A threat level color-coded security alert system was created (green, blue, yellow, orange, red). Green meant low risk of terrorist attack. Red, the highest level, meant “severe risk of terrorist attacks.” My five second research reveals for eight years, the level moved between yellow, orange and red. This alert system was eliminated in 2010.

Most of the airport security protocols are still in place, and more have been implemented like taking electronics or laptops out of bags. In 2013, TSA PreCheck was created, a trusted traveler program, which allows air travelers who are considered low-risk to enjoy airport security conveniences like shorter security lines and the option of removing less clothing.

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