This day I think is personal for everyone. When I talk to people about it there is a range of emotions and memories. For me this day only reminds me of my Mom. Growing up for many years it was mainly my Mom and I. She was always encouraging me and incredibly hardworking. She never went to college, and for the majority of her life worked in the restaurant business. She is amazing with people, and mixed with her work ethic, she was as successful as she could be. But in 1999 this lady, who never had even turned on a computer, decided now that my sister and I were adults, she was going to walk away from the restaurant world. Leave behind the only type of work she knew and apply to United Airlines Flight Attendant School. So in her late-forties she applied, got accepted and graduated. I was so proud of her. She was now going to get to travel the world and use her past hospitality and personal skills in a whole new way, I was so excited for her.
On September 10, 2001 she was supposed to fly to New York and for some reason her flight was cancelled. On Sept 11th she was supposed to fly out of NYC. Not knowing her flight plans and/or that it was cancelled, I called her cell phone and was relieved to hear her voice. My Mom, instead, was at home watching AMC. She loves old movies. I told her to turn on her TV…she did just before the second plane. She was horrified. She was sad, she was concerned as we all were, but also thinking of her friends and fellow flight attendants. Soon there after, she discovered that one of her fellow flight attendant classmates that graduated with her was on Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania after being taken down by passengers.
On Friday, September 14th my Mom worked the first flight from Chicago back to NYC. I remember asking her if she was scared, she didn’t hesitate and said no. She said “This is my job. I’m proud of who I work for and who I work with, and I get to help others be as comfortable as possible on their way home. It’s a privilege.” It was a flight filled mainly with New Yorkers going back home for the first time. Some had family members missing. I remember hearing stories from my Mom of those she talked to. She talked about the fighter jets visible over Manhattan. The gasps she heard as some saw NYC for the first time post 9/11…she will never forget.
To me, my Mom has always been amazing. But those days in September, and ever since then she has never hesitated to fly, or to remember her lost friends and to work as hard as she can for United no matter what. I tell you this story because I think it represents a lesson. A lesson to make sure we remember the past. A lesson to honor others by living bravely and living in the way that you were made to live. And I tell you this because I’m lucky to have a Mom that inspires me and who loves what she does despite life’s circumstances.
So on this 10 year anniversary of that horrible day, I pray that you take time to remember and honor those that were lost. And take the time to love on those that are still here with us. And above all us I hope for all to be thankful and do all you can to live uniquely.