When It Comes To Travel, September 11 Did Not Defeat Us

It’s hard to imagine it’s been 18 years since the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, particularly for those of us who live in New York, where the Twin Towers fell and killed almost 3,000.

Eighteen years.

Children born that year are now high school seniors or college freshmen if you’re looking for perspective, and yet the memories are still fresh and still vivid. And still heartbreaking.

What brings it home even further is the addition of more than 300 names to the 9/11 Memorial since it was dedicated in 2011 – names of first responders who suffered greatly from working at the site.

But it didn’t break us. It didn’t defeat us.

Still, we ride.

Still, we fly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 628 million Americans took to the air in 2011. Last year, it was 893 million.

Steady and consistent growth every single month, every single year, since the 9/11/01 attacks. In fact, 34.8 million Americans flew during the month of September in 2001, a figure obviously skewed by the three days that air travel was grounded in this country.

The next month, 44 million people flew and we haven’t had a month in the 30s since September of 2001.

It’s our resilience. It was our determination to not let the terrorists get the best of us. Not that there weren’t anxious travel moments in the aftermath.

Personally, several things stick with me. One was the day itself – surreal, horrifying, sad. As fate would have it, September 11, 2001 was the day we put our one-year-old in daycare and I wanted to be there, so I took the day off from work in Manhattan. We lived in the Hudson Valley, north of the city.

When my wife and I got home that morning, at around 9:30ish, we walked in the door and the answering machine was blinking “11.” I turned to her and said, “Eleven messages in an hour since we walked out of the house? I think before I hit this button we better prepare ourselves that we lost someone.”

Turns out, we all lost someone that day.

Second, I vividly recall the trepidation I had about getting back on a commuter train to head into the city for work the next day. There was talk of further attacks, including the trains and subways. Everybody was on edge, but this was part of life. All of us had to do our part to return to normalcy, even though we all were thrust into a new normal.

And finally, I doubt I will ever forget walking through Grand Central Terminal each day and seeing the signs and the posters that read, “Have You Seen ….?”

Yet, here we are, 18 years later. We will never forget. Ever. But we will never capitulate. We will never stop traveling.

Still, we ride.

Still, we fly.

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