Never forget. It was a vow Americans, and people around the world made on September 11, 2001. Two decades after a terrorist attack claimed the lives of thousands and forever changed the world, our country, our communities and our lives, we are taking a moment to remember.
“As we look back 20 years from Saturday, we’ll always remember the frightening and surreal day in our nation’s history,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote on Instagram. “It’s a memory that is seared into my brain. At the time, our industry had never seen this level of impact and I’ll never forget the eeriness and silence in the skies and at the airport around that time.”
We will never forget the shock and horror of those attacks that occurred on an otherwise normal, beautiful day. We will never forget the painful loss of life, and how those of us who survived and witnessed the attacks lost our sense of security. We’ll never forget the 2,996 souls lost that day. We will never forget the first responders who fearlessly and selflessly fought to save as many lives as they could – many at their own peril. We will never forget the crews and passengers of American flights 11 and 77 and United flights 93 and 175.
"Our world was forever changed on that day and it was our collective fortitude and empathy that brought us through that unthinkable time,” said Kristen Manion Taylor, S.V.P. – In-Flight Service. “The crews and passengers on those flights are all heroes."
“While Delta did not have any aircraft or crews involved with the murderous acts of violence and terror that day, I remember how deeply we felt a connection to our industry peers,” said Eric Phillips, S.V.P. – Airport Customer Service and Cargo.
In the days, weeks and months that followed the terrorist attacks, our nation responded with unity and solidarity. American flags were displayed with proud defiance of those that tried to defeat us. We were reminded that what truly matters is a commitment to each other. We will never forget those we lost and those who protected us then, and now.
“What stands out most, and what I will never forget, is our courage, resilience and passion – our resolve to return to the skies,” said E.V.P. and Chief of Operations John Laughter. “As crewmembers, it took bravery and determination to return to the air in the weeks that followed. I remember how proud I was to see our flight crews stand together with the strength and confidence to move forward.”
“In the weeks that followed, I remember vividly the solidarity we showed as an industry and as a nation,” said Allison Ausband, E.V.P. and Chief Customer Experience Officer. “We did not give up or give in – we focused on taking care of our people and implementing the necessary safety measures to get flying again.”
In the 20 years since, we still experience the impact of 9/11 in our day-to-day lives, in our experiences and our conversations. We’ll never forget that we must always remain vigilant.
Significant investment and advancements in security technology and practices have made aviation safer than ever, from the airport experience to the skies. “Above all, people will always be our greatest security asset,” said Randy Harrison, V.P. – Corporate Security. “While our industry and our communities face emerging threats domestically and abroad, our collective, continued awareness -- whether we’re airline employees or passengers – to protect each other is critical.”
But so much of what changed after that day has become commonplace. With every passing year, we must remind ourselves to never forget.
“My biggest fear is we will forget what happened to our country that day,” Delta V.P. – Airport Operations at New York-JFK Stephanie Baldwin wrote on social media. “We will forget the horror and pain inflicted upon thousands of people and their family members. We will forget all the first responders that ran TO and INTO the WTC to help-they never came home. We will forget how we all came together and prayed for the healing of our country.”
We never forget by sharing our memories. Over the past twenty years, memorials have been built a dedicated. The Freedom Tower soars on the hallowed ground where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once were. The opportunities to remember are plentiful.
“Parents, please make sure your children know what happened that day,” Baldwin wrote. “Come visit the 9/11 Museum or the Reflecting Pool at the [World Trade Center].”
We will never forget the solemnity of 9/11. But as we commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks, those painful memories are the ones that remind us to come together and remember our common humanity and shared values.
“We honor those who lost their lives, the brave first responders and servicemembers who fought to protect our country after the attacks,” Bastian wrote. “I’ll never forget how the Delta people came together and took exceptional care of our customers, and each other, that day and in the days following. That same spirit has been on display throughout the pandemic - another unimaginable crisis for our nation and our world.”
“Even as I know we will #NeverForget and my heart remains heavy in memory, I am optimistic for our future thanks to the resilience we see in Delta people, our industry colleagues, and our fellow citizens.”