Monica Shackelford – LRHS School Counselor
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – I was a police (patrol) officer in suburban Chicago during the events of 9/11. There are two things that I remember most clearly. First, the community in which I worked was a few miles from O’Hare Airport which is one of the busiest airports in the United States. Our police station was directly underneath what must have been one of the most frequently used routes for planes preparing to land at O’Hare, so we were all accustomed to having to stop our radio transmissions due to the noise level. The FAA had shut down all air traffic for days (perhaps longer, I can’t remember), and it was so eerily silent. It was such a loud reminder of the gravity of what happened.
Second, I remember that during the evening of September 11, members of the community lined both sides of one of the main thoroughfares. They held signs thanking us (police and firefighter/paramedics) for our service. I was working afternoons (3-11 p.m.) and drove down Irving Park Road to the sounds of dozens of cheering residents. It was so unusual (and, ultimately, short-lived) to receive so much gratitude and support from the public. I was always proud to be a first-responder, but I was even more proud on that day.
Coincidentally, I flew home to Chicago from Detroit on Monday, September 10. I remember sitting in the airport in Detroit at sunset; it was such a beautiful, clear night. I remember marveling at the view from the windows by my gate. Little did I know it would be the last time that flying would be a relatively easy, uncomplicated experience.