September 11, 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating attacks that forever changed the course of American history. Our members reflect on the impact that day had on them both personally and professionally. Jane Nygaard is the national vice president of AFGE’s 8th District which represents employees in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
I was working at the VA,, my daughter called and said a plane hit the World Trade Towers. I turned on the TV just as the second plane hit. We all watched in horror as the towers collapsed! My friend called from New York to let me know he was okay, you could hear the adrenaline in his voice as he stated how the towers fell before his eyes and cried as he said that he was okay. My husband and I were to leave for Ireland in two days, to visit my relatives, but air traffic had been cancelled nationwide. Living close to an airport I remember how eerie it was to not hear airplanes above. We called the airport to see if they had any idea when or if we would be able to go. Both of my children asked us not to fly but we both felt that we could not or would not let terrorists deter us. There was never a moment that we questioned our decision. We boarded the plane on our scheduled flight and were ready to take off when all flights nationwide were cancelled again because of the shoe bomber they had caught in Chicago. We went home but did not unpack. The next day I went to work called the airline and found out that if we could get to the airport fast we could leave that evening as many people had cancelled their trips. And so we took off on the first international flight out of Minneapolis after 9/11. It almost felt like a celebration on that flight like we as a group would show them, the terrorists, that they could not or would not stop us from living our lives. When we arrived in Gatwick, England to connect flights, it was mass chaos, thousands of people were stuck unable to get flights to America. Security was unbelievable but everyone was compliant with no complaints from anyone. Our arrival in Ireland was amazing,from the moment we landed I was surprised at the way people reacted to us (they all knew we were American, my cousins say it is how we dress and carry ourselves). Wherever we went strangers would come up to us and tell us how sorry they were and how saddened they felt for America. They were so sincere and truly felt our pain. I hope that we as a country never have to go thru anything like 9/11 again and that we never ever forget the heroes , from the police and firemen to the passengers and crew on the doomed flight that stepped up and proved what common folk can and will do in a crisis!