Front of WTC six months before the attack
I remember well how JPL responded the day twelve years ago when terrorists struck America. It was a work day, and despite the shock of the images on the TV news, most of us out here in California felt we needed to get to our jobs. Every JPL employee, though, was turned away at the gate and told to return home. No one knew the extent of the threats, and NASA facilities were considered potential targets. It wasn't till the 13th that JPL gave the all clear to return to work. It turned into an uncharacteristically patriotic day.
As could be expected, what became known simply as "9/11" was the talk of the lab. Everyone was concerned and worried. We probably all remember all the members of Congress--liberal and conservative alike--joining in an unprecedented show of patriotism, singing "God bless America" on the capitol steps. A similar upwelling of patriotism swept across JPL, usually a bastion of godless evolutionism and political correctness. The lab opened the prestigious Van Karman Auditorium for "meditation" all day, projecting the names of the victims on the screen to the music of Barber's Adagio for Strings. Within a few days, the JPL choir put on an outdoor program of patriotic songs, including God Bless America and the Battle Hymn of the Republic, attended by many on lab.
Recently a came across a memo to all employees shortly after 9/11. Signed by all 18 members of the Executive Committee, the memo from JPL Director Charles Elachi called on all employees to "re-dedicate ourselves to the principles and values that make us proud to be Americans". With the memo came an American flag lapel pin. The pins became a common sight on employees for the next few days.
This memo had a particularly poignancy for me. During my trial in 2012, JPL's lawyers, and Cassini Manager Bob Mitchell, emphasized that JPL was a "league of nations." For political correctness, it was inappropriate, therefore, to expect employees to celebrate Christmas. That's why my question to Carmen in 2003, asking why she was changing "Christmas Party" to "Holiday Party,"
was so "harassing" to her. Mitchell himself ordered her not to change the name back, even though Christmas is a federal holiday in America. How soon liberals forget the principles that make them proud to be Americans.
All the while, to this day, the only flag flying high over the JPL Administration Building is a huge American flag.