When the planes hit the world trade towers and other sites in the USA, my husband and I were in our 24th floor apartment which overlooked the Marriot Hotel (later itself the target of terrorist attacks). As we watched the TV in horror, a phone-call came in from my supervisor, a military man;
The laboratories will be closed until further notice.
Fortunately it became apparent that there were no pressing local threats to security, and we were all back at work several days later.
In November of that year I won an award to travel ‘stateside’ and present a paper at the 2001 meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Airport security was incredible and very slow – not surprising given the entire nation was still in shock about the events several months earlier. I recall one internal flight I boarded, a small plane only partially full. Passengers were seated and waiting for takeoff, and everyone was uneasy. We didn’t trust each other or the airline to keep us safe.
Low and behold the pilot opened the cockpit door and came sauntering down the aisle.
Morning Ma’am. Lovely day,
he greeted me.
Each passenger was welcomed aboard and given a smile or a handshake. The effect of these actions was palpable; everyone could see the pilot was relaxed and happy to be doing his job. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
He was a good bloke. Excellent at landing, too.
Image shows me (far left) with NAMRU-2 work colleagues on Indonesian Independence Day, August 17 2002.