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Karen Hyde: ‘Our lives, our livelihoods, were forever changed’

It was a beautiful morning, Sept. 11, 2001. I was preparing for a trip to San Juan. I am an international flight attendant for American Airlines and was based in Boston at the time.
My phone rang early. It was my sister, Genine Miller, calling to find out if I had my TV turned on. She told me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
I was sitting in front of the TV, talking and wondering how a pilot could make such a mistake.
The second plane flew into the second tower, and I thought, ěOh my God, we are under attack.î
About this time, my call waiting kicked in and my mother called to see if I was OK. She always calls when there is some sort of air incident, no matter where it happens. I was shaking as I sat there in front of my TV, my uniform on, ready to go to work.
Shortly after my mother called, they announced the first plane was an American Airlines flight. My phones, both land line and cell, started to ring and go crazy! My flying partner, Lynn Steinman, called. I remember telling her, ěI bet the flight was from Boston.î I told Lynn there would be about enough time for something to happen after takeoff.
All the flight attendants on my crew that day were calling one another. Should we go in to the airport? Will our flight still operate? Who was working the flight that was the first one to fly into the World Trade Center? How could this happen?
We decided on our own to go into the airport as a crew and be ready to do whatever needed to be done. No one nor group would tell us we would not fly.
We found out pretty quickly through other flight attendants who was on Flight 11. I was shocked, stunned and saddened to find out my friends were working this flight.
Soon the third plane went into he Pentagon. By this time, we were stunned and angry. How could this happen? I had been based in Washington, D.C., before Boston. I am sad to say, friends of mine were on that flight also.
By this time, American Airlines called to tell us to stay away from the airport. Stay home, stay safe.
My house was right across the water from Boston Logan Airport. The silence was the loudest noise I have ever experienced. No planes were taking off or landing. I sat and stared at the airport. My heart was broken, my eyes could not stop the tears, my spirit was determined.
We flight attendants, like the rest of the world, sat glued to our TVs ó feeling helpless, not knowing where to go. We were lost. Our fellow flight crews had been murdered.
Leaning on one another, we would meet at the Hilton Hotel at the airport, all airline personnel, all airlines. Together we would hold each other, cry and pray. Our lives, our livelihood were forever changed that day.
Even now, as I type this email, I am overcome with emotion and my eyes fill with tears.
Flight attendants and pilots are a different breed. We are more than co-workers; we are a chosen family. We spend days, weeks, months with each other. We share holidays away from home, birthdays, anniversaries and so much more ó becoming like family.
Sometimes closer than families, we understand when you canít be there for Christmas; instead you are stuck in who-knows-where with who-knows-who.
I am a flight attendant for American Airlines and I am from Salisbury, North Carolina. My co-worker, Liana Eddinger, another flight attendant for American, now calls Salisbury home.
We will all remember Sept. 11, 2001. Liana and I will remember and we will light a candle, shed our tears, and we will continue to live and work in an environment that has forever change the way we live and work.
As flight attendants, we are the first line of defense should anyone try to overtake another airplane, ever again. We live with this fact every day ó each and every day since Sept. 11, 2001.
Ten years after this tragic day happened ó every day, each time a flight crew puts on uniforms and goes to work ó we remember.

Karen Hyde graduated from North Rowan High School in 1972 and became a flight attendant in 1985. She lives in Cape Cod, Mass.

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