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CHICAGO — Tom McGuinness was 14 years old on September 11, 2001. His father, also named Tom, went to work that day as a pilot for American Airlines. He was the first officer on American Airlines flight #11 when it took off from Boston heading for Los Angeles. 

Early in the flight, hijackers commandeered the aircraft and flew it into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the first strike in a terror attack that reverberates to this day.

Two decades later, that 14 year-old boy is now also a pilot for American Airlines based in Chicago. While the younger McGuinness declined an interview request from WGN News, he did share his thoughts in a public post to fellow aviators on the Allied Pilots Association website.

“The way our country came together, the way our crews treated each other and our passengers, and the way my dad lived his life are all shining examples of what we want to remember this weekend,” McGuinness said in the post.

He remembered his father as an accomplished Navy aviator who retired as a Top Gun Tomcat pilot who always put his family and faith first in life. 

“As we remember our own stories this weekend, take a few minutes and be thankful for what we have. For those with kids, spend time showing them examples of compassion and kindness. This type of remembrance would honor our pilots and exemplify what my dad stood for,” McGuinness said in the post.

McGuinness said he hopes people will not focus on the sadness of September 11, but the gifts of life. 

“For those flying this weekend, thank you for staying vigilant and reminding your crews to never be complacent about what could happen. Together, we remember what happened 20 years ago on board our aircraft, and we will never forget,” he said.