John G. Brokopp, TSA
In a lifetime there are moments that are indelibly etched into a person’s consciousness, images saved in our mind’s eye, that we can recall down to the smallest details where we were and what we were doing.
For some it is December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Americans heard the shocking news when the favorite radio program they were listening to was interrupted with the tragic announcement.
For others, November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In homes across America, mid-day television programs came to a halt when special reports of the developments flashed across the screen.
For me and countless others of my generation, the day will be September 11, 2001. I was home getting ready for work and listening to radio when news of what was initially reported as a small plane accidentally flying into the World Trade Center in New York City was reported.
I quickly ran into the living room to turn on the TV. I saw smoke billowing from the windows of the tower and wondered how such a tragic accident could have taken place.
Moments later I watched the second plane fly into the second tower in a huge explosion. In an instant I realized this was no accident. This was a deliberate attack. This was war.
Who on earth could possibly be responsible for this tragedy? How could something as innocent as traveling by air be corrupted into such a horrific event? This is America. Our beloved homeland. We are safe here.
The very thought of these enemies of our country, whoever they were, maliciously turning our airplanes filled with innocent travelers and flight crew into destructive guided missiles of war and death sickened me.
The television images of the ensuing hours hit me with brutal, unrelenting force. Victims jumping from windows to their deaths, countless hundreds trapped in the infernos, first responders sacrificing everything to save others.
Even the Pentagon wasn’t spared from insult, death, and destruction. Had it not been for the brave passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 93 yet another target in Washington D.C., such as the White House or the Capital Building, would have been struck.
As details of the attack unfolded in the ensuing days and weeks, it became apparent that foreign adversaries had manipulated and abused our sacred freedoms to use as deadly weapons against us.
It was then that I joined millions of my fellow Americans to make a sacred vow that I would never allow this to happen again. The passage of ATSA and the creation of the Transportation Security Administration was our call to action.
I never had the privilege of serving my country in the armed forces, but in my own way I feel I am now serving my country as a civilian, proud to wear my uniform, and dedicated to our mission to protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
I serve as a Master Security Training Instructor because never again will I watch enemies of our beloved Homeland abuse the freedoms that so many of my countrymen have fought and died for.