One afternoon in 2007, Ed Markey stood outside the doors of the US House chamber, balancing plaster models in his hands. He was waiting to enter the nearly empty chamber, to make a speech for C-SPAN junkies illustrating the lack of screening of cargo on US airliners — a loophole that Markey feared a terrorist might exploit. It was a point he had hammered home after 9/11, while airlines and cargo companies insisted that existing precautions were sufficient. But he wasn’t about to give up, and, with a big smile on his face, bounded onto the House floor.
Though Markey’s district included people who died on 9/11, there was no special reason why he, of all House members, should be leading this particular cause. He simply saw it as his job to do what he could to improve the country.