Final Reflections

Being part of Transport Canada's response to September 11 means different things to different people.

For Maria Pagliarello, Director of National Air Services Policy, it was a rewarding eye-opener to get out of her usual group and work with colleagues she had never known. "The way Transport Canada came together as one was unbelievable," she says.

Others pointed to the spirit of teamwork and partnership that was forged with other departments and agencies — both in Canada and the United States — which willingly stepped in to play critical but supporting roles.

Julie Mah, who worked on the Explosives Detection Systems Project, feels a strong sense of pride in being a public servant, and particularly in seeing the tangible results of her work. "It feels good knowing that if I go through an airport and I see explosives detection equipment there, I played a part in putting it there. I had a hand in protecting you, your family and other members of the public."

Perhaps the most enduring legacy of Transport Canada's role one year ago is the enormous pride it instilled in its public servants - people who had a job to do but ended up doing extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances.

It's also a story about the tremendous dedication and sacrifice by those public servants. There are too many examples to mention of people who gave up home and family for days on end and pushed their physical limits.

A couple of months after the tragedy, there was a "take your kids to work" day. Janet Luloff's daughter was part of a group of Grade 9 students who came to Tower C with their parents. The then Associate Deputy Minister, Louis Ranger, who was filling in for the Deputy Minister, used the opportunity to tell the teenagers about Transport Canada's response to September 11 and explain why they hadn't seen much of their parents in the last couple of months. "He told them [the children] that their parents had been doing a very important job in handling this crisis," Luloff recalls. "I'll never forget the look of rapt attention on our kids' faces when they heard Louis lavishing such praise on their parents. I'll always be grateful for that, as it helped my daughter understand the importance of our work and why I had not been home much."

It may be fitting to leave the last word on the meaning of September 11 to security veteran Jean LeCours. In the days and weeks after the attacks, LeCours was reminding anyone who would listen about how some people keep their fine dinnerware locked away in some china cabinet, just waiting for "that special occasion."

LeCours told them September 11 has given him a brand new outlook on this habit. "Life's too short — go ahead, use the good dishes."