Remembering 911: How the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration came to be

In the reflection of the lights that shine in the replacement columns of the World Trade Center,  let us  honor the courage of those who were the ultimate sacrifice...  gcw 91113


On September 11 2001, I was a full time caregiver to my mother and was administering her ritual tube feeding.  She was in her final stages of advanced diabetes.   While attending to my Mom, I heard the explosion sounds coming from the television in the adjoining room.  My brother sounded the alarm, "Terrorists have attacked the US!".  The World Trade center has been hit by an airplane!!! 

And in that moment of utter dismay, I watched as the second plane gorged its way into the second building and exploded.

With millions, I saw President George Bush quickly ushered from the kindergarten classroom in Florida.   All the news channels were simultaneously showing the doomed airplane hijackings.  The World Trade Center buildings were imploding and crumbling to the ground.   Pictures of the Pentagon showed the fuselage of an airplane with its protruding tail crashed into its exterior walls. Billowing flames were the lasting vestiges of carnage left on a Pennsylvania field, from the plane intended for Washington, DC.  

In its most obtuse development, the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) came to be, because of the pillage of terror in the aftermath of 911.  While there are the many who have been the TSAs most vocal challengers and much of the scrutiny and invasive practices of safe travel measures are reviled, the conception and the coordination of efforts to create the TSA were bristled in the ebbs of calamity.  The wellspring of national and international safety in travel were created out of doom.

On the heels of the epic disaster of 911, it was mandated that all airport employees throughout the United States would be federal government employees. With the professional services contract awarded to NCS Pearson to perform this exhaustive undertaking, the largest mobile human resource staffing organization was formed.  I was one of the selected staffing consultants hired to be part of the mobile team to secure the new federal hires for the US airports.

In an extraordinary effort by teams of dedicated and patriotic workers, who were committed to duty and national pride, I share a snapshot of the preliminary makings of the agency we fondly love to hate:  The Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration.
  
With teams of over 2000 human resource staffing specialists assigned to each coast, we traveled as an army of civilians to sites closest to each airport facility from the northernmost to the southernmost States of the United States of America.  

With statutory mandates for new federal hires to be completed within a 12 month time frame, massive populations of federal job seekers were attracted to hiring events held in major cities and towns.

The organization and administrative undertakings were monumental.   

Teams of staffing specialists were on duty from the earliest morning hours to the latest early morning hours., scouring over paperwork, inputting and sending data between contact leaders and government representatives.  

Our assignments entailed interviewing applicants for screeners, baggage handlers, airport managers, federal security directors, just to name a few.

After the screening applicants were selected and the rudiments of federal employment practices were initiated, there were finger printing actions, background checks, drug testing paperwork to be completed and  filed.   There were contingency offers of federal employment to successful candidates that required demand processing.

Among the most compelling moments of the interview processes were the exhibitions of patriotic  passion, and the overwhelming responses to civic duty by many of the applicants.  

At the New York City hiring site, held at the Grand Marriott Hotel in Mid Town Manhattan, the atmosphere was filled with electrical synergy.  Thousands thronged the 16th floor Marriott, which was turned into the largest mobile office of staffers, reviewers, and administrators, to submit their applications for federal employment.  Successful interviewees were graduated to become federal employees.  The final step of the hiring process was the official federal government swearing in ceremonies.

With every swearing in ceremony occasion,  when the Pledge of Allegiance was spoken, with right hand raised and left hand on the chest,  most every one in the room could feel the gravity of emotion that resonated with the words that were spoken:
I pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands,one nation under God, indivisible,with Liberty and Justice for all.
 Throughout the experience of the hiring of the federal employees for the USA airports, friendships developed, strangers became family and unity prevailed. 

Twelve years since 911, many of the human resource staffing specialists for the Transportation Security Administration have continued their lives in various disciplines and corporate forums. Although separated in our individual lives, we will always have this common bond.
  
Out of the ashes of 911 the most endearing triumphs were the heroic champions of goodwill that reverberated throughout the streets of New York City, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and the whole world.  In their most cataclysmic moment, the rescuers, the medics, the defenders and the civilians of the city of New York, and the thousands of those whose loss we mourn, became the nation’s heroes.  Theirs are the stories forever inked in history that will remain indelibly carved in our hearts and in the minds of all who remember 911.

In the midst of the aggravation of searches and screening at airport terminals, I gratefully remember all the colleagues who shared in the TSA staffing journey.  In the reflection of the lights that shine in the replacement columns of the World Trade Center,  let us  honor the courage of those who were the ultimate sacrifice. 

Respectfully and thankfully,  the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration is the uncomfortable reminder, that our safety will never be comprised, and our freedom will not be sacrificed.   












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