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. AFGE General Counsel David Borer recalls the impact on his previous employer, the Association of Flight Attendants, and on his wife, Sara, a United Airlines flight attendant who knew all of the crew members who died that day.
September 11 is a special day, and the 10th anniversary of the tragedy resonates with particular clarity. It’s a day to remember those who lost their lives in the attacks and everyone touched by the tragic events of that day in 2001. It really does seem like “only yesterday” in an almost surreal way.
At my former union, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), we lost a dozen friends and colleagues who were the working flight attendant crew members on the two United Airlines flights struck by the terrorists. In all, 33 crew members and two customer service agents died that day – from United and American Airlines. In addition to the flight attendants at United, there were members of the Air Line Pilots Association at United, members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants at American, and members of the Allied Pilots Association at American.
Hundreds of union firefighters and police officers and other workers were killed on the ground; good union members, and dedicated professionals from all walks of life. Federal employees, some represented by AFGE, worked in the Twin Towers and, of course, at the Pentagon. Other AFGE members were among the first responders who turned out to the crash sites immediately after the airplanes crashed.
Unions who lost members that day, and other unions that just wanted to help, responded with an enormous outpouring of support. We raised money for the surviving family members. We counseled our co-workers in their grief even as we grieved along with them. We fought for and won increased security measures – onboard commercial aircraft and in airports across the country. And, we vowed to always remember our fallen colleagues.
AFA at United Airlines has a memorial page posted honoring the memory of their colleagues and the others who gave their lives in the line of duty that day. I hope you will take a moment to view the memorial and to honor their memory.
Some of you may also have lost family, friends or acquaintances on September 11. With so many killed on the ground and in the aircraft, the circle of those who were touched directly by the tragedy is a wide one. My wife, Sara, is a United Airlines flight attendant and was based in Boston in 2001. She often worked Flight 175 before September 11, and knew all the crew members who died that day. As a union representative for AFA, Sara helped with AFA’s response, supporting the Boston flight attendants as they coped with the tragedy, and helping to organize the official memorial service on the steps of the Massachusetts State House. This year, as AFA’s International Vice President, she appears in a public service announcement promoting the opening of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, our nation’s permanent tribute to those who died that day.
Beyond those immediately and directly affected, we were all touched as Americans by the events of that day. We salute the heroes who died on September 11, and the heroes whose efforts saved so many lives. We honor them simply by remembering.
9/11 Memorial Public Service Announcement