Travel Newsstand for Sept. 11-28, 2017
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A special report: Every column I've written about 9/11 on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. What can we learn about how we've adjusted to and made peace with that dreadful day? I'm not sure I know. I don't even know if we have ever even come to grips with the events of that dreadful day when four planes were hijacked and thousands of innocents died.
The Next Time the Earth Moves and the Sky Tumbles Down
Every year on the anniversary of 9/11, the day when our lives on the road changed forever, I try to write something meaningful--or just intelligible. All of those columns appear below and, after reviewing them, I am not impressed.
But maybe I hit on something useful in 2008 in a column I called So Far Away. For reasons that I am sure made sense seven years after the terror, my brain conflated 9/11 with So Far Away, the seminal Carole King song about longing and travel and a life lived far from home.
"For a lot of us, 9/11 has come to own us. There are no dreams left to find on the road," I wrote then, paraphrasing King. "We tick off the anniversaries, each year so far away from that horrific day, and feel empty and removed from our lives on the road now and our lives on the road then."
Yet I found some hope for the future in 2008. "The road, I think, will soon belong to people who only know 9/11 as history. They will have dreams to find. They will have songs about moving along the highway that will say something new."
As the years, and now the decades, fly by, it seems sure that those of us who lived through 9/11 as business travelers will never escape the shadow of that awful day. We are forever scarred, our outlook and viewpoint about business travel eternally chained to those hideous events.
But the new generation is here. Call them millennials or call them kids. For them, 9/11 happened in another time, an alternate reality. They have fresh eyes, this new generation of frequent flyers. They don't bear the mark of 9/11. They have the energy and the optimism and the spirit you need to win the everyday battles on the road.
I root for them. When the earth moves under their feet and they feel the sky tumbling down, as Carole King wrote in another seminal tune, I hope it is because of love. Not the hate that caused towers to fall and innocents to die. -- Joe Brancatelli
2016: Frequent Flyers and Fear Itself
After the chaotic and mindless evacuations at LAX and JFK in the last few weeks, I planned to opine that Franklin Roosevelt was wrong. I was about to suggest that flyers had more to fear than fear itself. But I listened to the key sentence of FDR's first inauguration address and realized that he was right. Everyone knows FDR said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." But then he explained the term. Fear itself was "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror." And, boy, 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, there's a lot of fear itself around.
2015: Time to Overhaul the TSA
One of the lasting legacies of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is the Transportation Security Administration, the dysfunctional federal agency that can't do its job and makes it miserable for us as we try to do ours. The TSA's incompetence and arrogance are unquestioned. We must fix the agency--and it can be fixed. Here are six ways to make it better, not that the TSA is listening.
2014: Losing the War After 13 Years
Thirteen years after the 2001 terrorism attacks downed four passenger aircraft and slaughtered nearly 3,000 people, it is hard not to conclude that the terrorists have won. And that's not just because another president went on television last night to give another speech about another crisis that requires America to fight another amorphous terrorist group that poses still another existential threat to our way of life.
2013: The Newest 'Normal' in a Post-9/11 World
On the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, I believe that one thing is clear: The business-travel world is divided into pre-9/11 thinking and post-9/11 realities. Before the attacks, we naively thought we knew how to handle terrorism. The past 12 years show that we knew nothing at all and maybe still don't know anything. But this is how we cope.
2011: Ten Thoughts About Travel Since 9/11
The very first column I wrote after 9/11 was widely praised and reprinted because it inspired confidence and defiance. No one will remember this column or want to reprint it. It will not inspire confidence or defiance. Because when you have 10 thoughts about travel since 9/11, none of them are happy and none are particularly hopeful. The world in general, and the world of travel in particular, hasn't fared well since 9/11.
2010: Losing the War With Ourselves
Nine years after 9/11, there are preachers urging us to burn the Koran and know-nothings protesting a Ground Zero mosque that is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque. Ground Zero itself is still a hole in the ground and the TSA is making shockingly explicit photos of us before we can board a flight. We've given in to the worst demons of our national nature. And we have lost the war with ourselves.
2010: Winning the War With Ourselves
Your responses to my column about the state of things nine years after 9/11 were so erudite and so honorable that I thought you'd like to read a little bit of what your fellow business travelers are thinking. It reminds me how honored I am to work with and for you.
2009: Forever Young. Again.
Life on the road makes us old and we unfortunate few also bear the mark of 9/11. But I am tired of feeling old and looking back. Eight years after the massacre of innocents and innocence, I want to be forever young. Again. Because the young think they are invulnerable. And I want to feel innocent and invulnerable again.
2008: So Far Away
Nine-Eleven, I think, has come to own us. There are no dreams left to find on the road. We tick off the anniversaries, each year so far away from that horrific day, and feel empty and removed from our lives on the road now. But the road, I think, will soon belong to people who only know 9/11 as history. They will have dreams to find. They will have songs about moving along the highway that will say something new. That is as it should be.
2007: The Enemy Within?
Six years after 9/11, business travelers wrestle with an ugly reality: Our most intractable foe may be the federal bureaucracy we created to keep our airports and airplanes safe. The TSA treats us like terrorists until we're proven innocent. It vigilantly guards us against breast-feeding moms, frequent flyers with biometric IDs, and Ozzie and Harriet’s son, but there's no sign that we're actually any safer from terrorism.
2006: The Echoes of 9/11
Five years after our lives on the road changed forever, it is still difficult to fathom exactly what happened--and why. But on the fifth anniversary of that horrific day, I offer some thoughts about how we've adjusted (or haven't) with particular attention paid to my contemporary commentary and observations at the time. The simple fact of the matter is that I slept through 9/11--and haven't had a good night's sleep since.
It is five years now. Sometimes it feels like five seconds. Sometimes it feels like 500 years. Either way, I think I know just one thing for sure about 9/11: None of us have really come to terms with this thing that we have reduced to a numeric acronym. But once a year, at least, I think we should try. If not to look the horror of 9/11 straight in its face, at least to take a moment to stop and reflect.
This, I believe, is true: You and I and all of us who live our lives on the road have never truly come to terms with 9/11. We haven't grieved enough. There's never been time. We've never reflected enough. The rush of the news and our lives has made that impossible. But I vowed to myself, four years on, that I would look 9/11 squarely in its horrific face and tell you about it. So I went to Ground Zero last week and came back empty.
2004: 9-11 Plus Three
This is the third anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I don't care what else is going on--airline bankruptcies, hurricanes, presidential elections--we should be stopping and reflecting. There are other things I could write about, but I'm going to stop and reflect. This is what I'm thinking about three years after 9/11. I urge you to sit down sometime in the next few days and write down what you're thinking about.
2003: What I Know About 9/11
This is what I think I know about 9/11: It is two years now, but it could be two decades or two minutes or two millennia. Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about it. Every few months I go down to Ground Zero and just stare into the big pit. And I can't remember what life on the road was like on September 10, 2001.
2002: The Truth About Airline Security
It has been a year now and the shock, if not the pain and the grief, is gone. The talking heads have talked. The politicians have postured. The so-called experts have babbled and blustered. The airlines and the airports have lied and backtracked. Now we need to cut through the drivel and talk some sense about airline security.
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