On the morning of the attacks, I was getting ready to head out to my job as a general manager for a business hotel on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. I watched the events unfold in disbelief and drove to work in a changed world. The many months after 9/11 were hard for the hospitality industry, especially so close to New York. I found myself without a job, and my decade-long career at an end.
After some reflection, I decided to join the Army National Guard as a military intelligence analyst to do my part to help find those responsible. While that particular goal was not fulfilled during my own six years in the service, others have picked up the trail and brought what I started to a final and deserving conclusion.
After a return to college, I became a federal employee in 2008. A new and promising career path lay before me, born out of tragedy, determination and a bit of luck.
Thiel is a management and special programs analyst at the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General in Seattle.