I was a flight attendant for United Airlines. I could have been on those planes, but that particular day, I happened to be off.
We all know what happened. We watched it unfold with horror in our living rooms. We clogged up phone lines trying to make contact with friends in New York or Washington, D.C. We desperately read every shred of news we could get our hands on in the days that followed.
I went back to work, to the airport, suspicious of everyone, suddenly envious of ground personnel like gate agents because they got to stay on, well, the ground. Our pre-flight crew briefings changed. The captain now included special instructions about shifting beverage carts to block the cockpit area if a pilot needed to use the restroom. The danger level of flying might have been a Code Orange, but I constantly felt my personal meter read Code Red.
To all the people who were harmed, directly or indirectly, my heart goes out to you. We will remember the victims, and we will remember the heroes.