“Following September 11, 2001, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to strengthen the security of the nation’s transportation systems and ensure the freedom of movement for people and commerce. Today, TSA secures the nation’s airports and screens all commercial airline passengers and baggage.”
On Friday, Paolo and I waited for six hours at the Austin airport until our Los Angeles-bound flight was finally allowed to depart. Our plane was among the first to land at LAX after the airport had been closed in the wake of Friday morning’s shooting, a terrible and terrifying episode that took the life of a TSA agent.
Earlier in our day back in Texas, before news of the shooting broke, Paolo and I had watched a parade of Second World War veterans (see photo below) in wheel chairs as they passed through the main corridor of the airport to the applause of all those present.
When the veterans arrived at the terminal, they were greeted by a TSA honor guard.
I’ll never forget seeing them there and the image of their stern faces and erect torsos, dutifully expressionless as they honored their guests. Until that moment, it had never occurred to me that, like our nation’s other armed forces, they are a military body and their bodies are the front line of our protection when we pass through our nations airports.
At that moment, no one — neither they nor we — knew what was about to happen. The news broke just a few short minutes after we boarded our 11:35 a.m. flight.
Paolo and I did ultimately make it to LA and we managed to get to our tasting on time despite the ongoing mayhem at the airport, where a sea of weary travelers had been stranded all day and where tension was high and nerves taut.
After we landed, it was heart-breaking to see the TSA agents in the airport: as they continued to perform their duty, keeping us safe, we could only imagine the pain that they felt for the loss of their comrade.
Paolo and I have been traveling together all week and we have two more domestic flights together before we’ll part ways in Seattle. After that, I’ll board three more flights before I’ll get back to my family in Texas.
Women and men of the TSA, thanks for keeping us safe.