Skip to content

Eighteen Years

Eighteen Years published on 14 Comments on Eighteen Years

I am here today with a card for Freshly Made Sketches, but even more with a look back. It has been a few years since I shared a 9/11 tribute. Somewhat because I don’t want it to feel forced. Last year, there was a lot of personal sadness happening and I just could not handle more. But this year, I felt compelled to create and share in honor of those lost.

Because it has been a while, and because I mostly don’t share about my “day job” here, I’ll clarify for those who are newer to the blog. I am a pilot for United Airlines. I currently fly an Airbus 319/320 but on 9/11/2001 I flew a B757. On that day. From Providence, RI to Chicago O’Hare. I have shared stories over the years if you are interested: 9th Anniversary, 10th Anniversary, 11th Anniversary, 12th Anniversary, 13th Anniversary, 14th Anniversary, 15th Anniversary.

As time goes by, I thought that the memories would ease a bit. I’m sure for all of us, we have found that isn’t really true with this particular event. But as I was talking with my now 16 year old son last night, and sharing my experiences of that day, there are so many things that still stand out as if it was yesterday. The fear, the confusion, yes. But really the strongest part is the coming together of people. All of us. I miss that. I tried explaining it to my boys. I feel like in trying to control our fear we have lost a bit of what makes us special. So many people worldwide simply stopped and took care of each other. They looked to neighbors and people that they had never met and found a way to come together. I reflect on flying that day and the feeling of that glorious sky and the darkness that came after. And I’m grateful for the light that returned because of love and kindness.

As in previous years, my color scheme seems to remain the same. Blue and gray (silver). The colors of legacy United Airlines. But as with the new United, the colors are a bit updated. A nod to our history but with an eye to our future too. Please know that there no matter how many years go by, the pilots of United do not forget. Our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our family, the passengers entrusted to our care….all were taken. We work every day to honor them. Today especially.

I “borrowed” this photo from a friend and Captain I fly with. The wings and jackets representing the crews of United and American Airlines. My friend, Brian, works daily protecting the legacies of the pilots of United lost that day. He and their loved ones bring light to the darkness. It is an amazing gift.

So today, as in the past, I hope for more of that. Kindness and love are the only solution to the tragedy brought by hate. I hope that today, and on other days, we give each other a little grace and work to find the light.

In memory of:

United 93:  Jason Dahl, LeRoy Homer, Lorraine Bay, Sandra Bradshaw, Wanda Green, CeeCee Lyles, Deborah Welsh

United 175:  Victor Saracini, Michael Horrocks, Robert Fangman, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn Laborie, Alfred Marchand, Michael Tarrou, Alicia Titus

American 11:  John Ogonowski, Thomas McGuinness, Barbara Arestegui, Jeffrey Collman, Sara Low, Karen Martin, Kathleen Nicosia, Betty Ong, Jean D. Roger, Dianne Snyder, Amy Sweeney

American 77:  Charles Burlingame III, David Charlebois, Michele Heidenberger, Jennifer Lewis, Kenneth Lewis, Renee May


Thank you for reminding us how special September 12th was for the world. I was traveling in Oregon and vividly remember the flowers at every gate agents station at United and American when I arrived at Portland airport a few days later. The agents stations were dark as they had not yet resumed flights. The darkness was a stark reminder of what our world witnessed but the flowers were a reminder of the Beaty of human kindness that survived.

Thank you so much for your 9-11 tribute. I was in DC for National Guard duty that day and in a building close to the Pentagon when the plane hit. Watching it burn that evening from our hotel across from the Pentagon I felt feelings of fear (for our country), pride (for all who stepped up to help) and nervous anticipation of what wad to come. It’s hard to explain to those who weren’t alive that day. We were one of the first military planes in the air going home the next day to Colorado. We immediately began mobilizing our Special Forces unit to deploy to Afghanistan. The world changed for us. Still I wish for the unity and kindness that we witnessed on 9-12!

Jen, I don’t write comments very often, due to arthritis and other health issues. I happened to scroll to this card today because I missed last week’s sketch. I had seen that you are a pilot previously.
I was so moved by what you wrote. I was in my 40’s when this tragedy occurred and anyone old enough can probably remember so much of what they saw on television and in papers, etc. And then the repeats on TV on the actual 18th anniversary this week.
You wrote a beautiful tribute, made a lovely card, and I admire what you do. I am so sorry for the colleagues that you lost. I too pray for more love and kindness in this world.
I know that there was much kindness shown to victims that day, as there was with the Boston marathon shooting. We must never forget, and for those of us old enough to remember, we won’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Primary Sidebar