Mark and Julie Hunter of Medford, with their daughters, Rylan, 3, and Avery, 10 months, will be flying home today from Las Vegas. - Bob Pennell

'It changed our country forever'

When Mark and Julie Hunter fly home to Medford from Las Vegas on this, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they will be dressed appropriately.

Even Rylan, their chatty 3-year-old daughter, will sport flip-flops for quick removal during the security check.

"You have to dress for the occasion," said Mark, 35, who works for the local power company. "And you have to pack your bags accordingly."

That means they cannot pack bottled breast milk for cherub-faced Avery, their 10-month-old daughter resting snuggly in her father's arms. Her tiny Hunter feet will be the only ones not wearing flip-flops.

"I have to be very careful what I pack in the kids' bag as far as snacks and toys," said Julie, 29, a registered nurse. "I don't want to put anything in there they will take away when we go through the security check."

Increased security and restrictions on carry-on luggage are among the many changes the nation made after losing 3,000 people to the al-Qaida attacks a decade ago. The Hunters were among travelers at the Medford airport interviewed by the Mail Tribune early Thursday morning for a perspective on how 9/11 has changed their lives.

Most spoke of the increased security found at airports, including the inevitable footwear check. Several noted their increased appreciation since 9/11 for everyone in uniform, from first responders to soldiers.

"We need to thank people in the military, and police officers and firefighters," Mark said.

Mark said his family is not afraid to fly, noting statistics show it's still safer than driving. "But it is more of a hassle now, going through this TSA (Transportation Security Administration) stuff," he said. "But they gotta do what they gotta do to keep us safe."

"I'm happy there are restrictions like this when we do fly," Julie said. "Especially with our kids. We know we will be safe and protected."

Cave Junction resident Mary Reynolds, 53, was about to board her first flight since 9/11. Employed in the health insurance industry, she was heading to Charlotte, N.C., to attend a convention.

"But I'm not worried about it," she said. "I used to work in the travel industry, but 9/11 put an end to my job.

"I was managing a travel agency and was the trainer, so I traveled all over the country," she added. "A lot of us lost our jobs."

Like the others, she was dressed casually for the security check.

"Everyone has a little apprehension when they fly, but I'm not really that worried," she said, adding she was looking forward to getting back aboard an aircraft.

Kaci Spoor, 23, of Junction City, and her friend, Christine Meyers, 19, of Harrisburg, drove down to Medford to fly to Las Vegas, citing a cheaper flight. Like the Hunters, they will be returning today.

The terrorist attack changed the way she perceives her future work, said Meyers, who is employed at a nursing home.

"I'm going to be in the medical field, and 9/11 changed the way I look at emergency medicine," she said. "When I think about how the firefighters responded, it really made me respect them even more. The sacrifices they made were unbelievable, super important to our country."

Spoor, whose husband is an emergency medical technician, agreed.

"That's something now I am constantly aware of," she said. "When I was 13 years old when the attack happened, I didn't think about any of that, how it could happen in America.

"My husband is now one of those," she added of emergency responders. "It changes how you think about 9/11."

In the future, when they have children, the young women say they will talk to them about the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"They will say to us, 'Oh my gosh, you were alive during 9/11!' " Spoor said. "We will tell them how it changed our country forever."

Tom and Carol Swearingen of Lakewood, Texas, were waiting for a flight after attending a wedding in Portland and visiting relatives in Medford.

"The big change we see is that it has made it more difficult to get through airports," said Tom, 73, a retired accountant. "You obviously have more problems going through airports now. ... At this age, it's a little harder to have to take off your shoes and put them back on.

"And it has sure screwed up the country, all that money we are spending fighting terrorists," he added.

He also found fault with the security check in place at airports.

"I really think they are doing it the wrong way," he said. "They are doing it the politically correct way — going through grandma's luggage and checking all the little babies.

"They really ought to be doing it the Israeli way," he concluded. "They should check the bags, of course, but they should also use the interview process, too, like they do in Israel."

Canadian Allen Charlton, 38, of Toronto, who was visiting a friend in the Rogue Valley, shrugged off the impact of any changes on his life.

"I wouldn't avoid travel," said Charlton, who works in information technology. "I was traveling 10 years ago when it happened. It changed attitudes somewhat. But you get used to it. It's just part of our world today."

But Betsy Thompson, 66, who was bound for Charlotte, N.C., after visiting a brother in Medford, wasn't quite as accepting.

"It has made me a little more cautious," she said.

"I'm a little anxious now before I get on an airplane, just thinking about it," adder her mother, Marge Fannin, 86, who lives with her near Charlotte. "But once I get on, it leaves me. I'm OK then."

Thompson, who recently retired as a plant manager, traveled each week to Wisconsin after 9/11.

"I never thought about anything happening — I just didn't think about it," she said.

"People have to put it behind them and move on," her mother said. "I know it is a terrible thing to say, that it is something some will never get over, in New York especially. But we have to try."

As for the increased security since 9/11, both had no problems.

"People grumble and fuss about having to do this, but I don't mind it a bit," Fannin said. "It makes me feel more secure."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at

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