It is with great pride that S&T flew the commemorative 9/11 American flag last week.
September 11, 2001, is a day that will forever be seared into the memories of Americans and others across the globe. On that day, 19 hijackers used U.S. jetliners to topple the Twin Towers in New York City and plow into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Hijackers of a fourth jetliner were unable to attack another high-value target after passengers rebelled and the plane crashed in a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Had that plane, United Airlines Flight 93, made it to its target that day—believed to be the U.S. Capitol building or the White House—the number of fatalities could have been far higher than the 2,977 innocent souls we lost that day.
On July 25 and 26, our Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, raised the 9/11 commemorative flag at their building—and let it wave proudly for all to see.
This flag holds great meaning—both in remembering a tragic day in our nation’s history and reminding us of the ties that bind us together in our mission for public safety and national security. On September 11, 2021—on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11—police officers from the New York City Police Department presented Secretary Mayorkas with an American flag that was flown over the 9/11 memorial earlier that morning in honor of this milestone anniversary.
Secretary Mayorkas decided right then that a commemorative flag be flown or displayed at DHS components and offices throughout the year—and that each component or office would have the opportunity to display the flag at the locations that best represented their contribution to the Department's mission.
Since that day, DHS components have taken turns flying the flag over their respective facilities and have passed the flag to the next component. Last week, as the flag flew over one of our nation’s leading labs, I was reminded of its mission that keeps our skies and airline passengers safe each and every day—and by extension protecting the essential aviation sector as a whole.
It was an honor to fly the flag at TSL, as it protects the very asset that hijackers used to strike a fierce blow at the heart of our nation by seizing and weaponizing U.S. aircraft. In the face of an unimaginable attack that shook the nation to its core, TSL showed unwavering dedication and professionalism that remains today.
The staff at TSL—physicists, chemists, engineers and mathematicians who are leaders in explosives detection and mitigation—represent our ability to answer the call when threats arise. The fact that the nation has not experienced another catastrophic event like 9/11 since, is a testament to the skill and expertise that our TSL professionals bring to the job every day.
I couldn’t be more proud of TSL for hosting and flying the commemorative flag and more grateful to the Secretary for driving this effort that underscores our shared mission.