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. Gerald Swanke is the national vice president of AFGE’s 11th District which represents federal employees in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Guam, Utah and Wyoming.
I left Portland on a 7:00 am flight to Washington DC. About an hour and a half into the flight, the captain made an announcement about the twin towers in New York and air traffic control had ordered all flights to return to cities of origin.
What I remember most was the calm and gentle way the pilot spoke – he had no anxiety in his voice – cause anxiety or panic. The entire flight crew was incredibly
professional that day- as if they had been trained how to react in such tragic
Upon landing, first responders were all over the airport- each of them equally calm
and dedicated to public safety. And almost all of them were and are public
In spite of the horror and tragedy of the day-public workers proved their value to
our nation cannot be measured as if a currency or commodity.
So here we are 10 years later, and public employees are being positioned in the media as faceless, selfish bureaucrats. It is critical that Americans remember the contributions of public servants who are also union members including our firefighters, police officers, health care workers and EPA employees all of whom were first responders on that tragic day and the aftermath.