- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

Yesterday was a routine travel day at area airports for the relatively small number of passengers despite many reminders of the terrorist attacks one year earlier.
The nation was on high alert, American flags hung from airport entrances and security guards were out in force. They checked trucks entering airport property as an added security measure.
The airports announced moments of silence over their loudspeakers at 8:46 a.m., the exact minute when the first hijacked airliner struck the World Trade Center last year.
"Almost everyone has been affected one way or another," said Joe Dole, a vacationing Continental Airlines pilot who waited for a flight near the observation deck at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. "So many people were lost."
Airline bookings yesterday were expected to run about 50 percent below levels on most business days, said Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. Airlines dropped about 70 flights out of all three area airports.
"It was not the usual look of the terminal, where you have a lot of activity," Miss Hamilton said. "Everybody expected that throughout the industry."
Instead, she said, most travelers "wanted to stay home and be in their community for today's various events and remembrances."
The greatest threat of the day came from a Northwest Airlines flight that was diverted to Fort Smith, Ark., after three passengers who appeared to be of Middle Eastern ancestry locked themselves in a bathroom. The flight was traveling from Memphis, Tenn., to Las Vegas. The incident was being investigated.
Any concerns about another attack were "nothing to keep us from doing what we're doing," said Joe Haas, executive director of the North Carolina Christian School Association, while he waited for a flight home at Reagan Airport.
He was in Washington with other Christian leaders meeting with President Bush about faith-based government initiatives, which is the same thing he was doing one year ago. Only that time, he cleared security at the White House only long enough for Secret Service agents to chase him and other visitors away because an "unknown airplane" was approaching.
This week, the meeting was not interrupted.
Leonard Fleming, an 18-year-old Alexandria resident traveling to see his family in Puerto Rico, wore a red, white and blue ribbon pinned to his shirt as he waited for a flight at Reagan Airport.
Other travelers and airline employees wore jewelry or ties with American flags on them.
"It's kind of enlightening," Mr. Fleming said. "Everybody's showing respect by wearing the colors."
Dolan Edwards, a Houston pharmacist who arrived at BWI, said he had no qualms about flying.
"My wife and my employees were like, 'Are you crazy, flying on September 11,'" Mr. Edwards said. "But once I booked it, I didn't even think about it."
At the Washington Monument, the Association of Flight Attendants held a "remembrance and prayer" ceremony.
While many ceremonies memorialized firefighters who were killed, "We want to make sure people don't forget the flight attendants who were among the first," said Dawn Deeks, spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants. "Flight attendants from around the world watched their workplace turned into a weapon of mass destruction on September 11."


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