Metro Detroit agent helps children understand effects of 9/11 attacks

Patty Fantazian speaks to students about how attacks changed security

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Sept. 11, 2001, is a day most people remember in clear detail. It was a day thousands lost their lives, and security measures in the United States changed forever.

Those born after the attacks, however, might struggle to understand their true impact because they didn’t experience 9/11 for themselves.

Patty Fantazian, acting special agent in charge of Transportation Security Administration investigations and previously a secret service agent, talks to students about the effect 9/11 had on the United States and how they, too, feel its impact, whether they know it or not.

Sept. 11 was the day al-Qaida hijackers took control of four passenger airplanes full of jet fuel and used them to fly into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in our nation's capital. One plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Both towers fell and almost 3,000 people were killed that day.

"It's a strange feeling because normally when you talk to someone they know exactly where they were when it happened, and now you're speaking to these students who were not even born yet," Fantazian said.

For Fantazian, 9/11 wasn't just a tragic event; it was a call to service. She left her job with the Secret Service to become a supervisor for the Federal Air Marshals.

"I wish 9/11 never happened, but I am -- it was part of me wanted to join the Air Marshal Service so I could make a difference in what happened in our country," Fantazian said.

Fantazian still feels that same call to service, educating teens who didn't experience the effects of 9/11 firsthand -- especially since her daughter is one of those teens.

"I believe they have to know what happened on 9/11 because that's how things sort of evolved and started with our security measures, especially at the airport," Fantazian said.

After learning about 9/11 in her American history class, Kennedy Poescat, Fantazian’s daughter, thought her mom would be the perfect person to come in to speak about the attacks.

"I think it was beneficial and I think everybody who got to experience the speech that my mom gave really, maybe, would've gotten something out of it." Kennedy said.

Dr. Nick Hamblin, Kennedy’s history teacher, loved the idea of having Fantazian in to speak.

"I like that she's here because folks like the speaker or myself, we remember exactly where we were during 9/11," Hamblin said. "We know the changes. I don't know that all of them realize it, but in one way or another it's impacted all of their lives."

Both Hamblin and Fantazian said they believe that sharing these firsthand experiences about 9/11 helps to provide a realness for students who didn’t experience it for themselves.

"There's a big difference from a history lecture and a history (in which) I was there," Hamblin said.

"It was a lot bigger of a deal than I originally thought and more people were taken out than I had originally thought," sophomore Edison Siver said. "There are a lot more people that are now involved with the safety of flight."

Hamblin hopes to have Fantazian back in his classroom in the years to come.

"I would think she would only be more relevant as time goes on because not only the kids will go, but eventually, we'll have parents that aren't alive during 9/11," Hamblin said.