Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday - 9-11-2001


13 years later and the memory of that day is fresh. Remembering 9-11 floods me with a wash of emotions as real as the emotions I felt that day. Some have said "don't wallow,' others have repeated therapist's advice to tell and re-tell the events so that the emotions are no longer attached. I do neither of those things...I live my life and every once in a while, a sound, a picture, or a date brings back the day with clarity.

I was in my office on Capitol Hill. We had the television turned to the national news, a report was being broadcast about a plane hitting a skyscraper in New York city. We watched, live, as the second plane hit. I called my boss, we were told to those pre-9-11 days there were no plans for what to do if we were attacked, no evacuation drills. On the street hundreds were exiting the buildings, some walking, others trying to get to their cars. It was the days before everyone had a cell phone, those who did have cell phones were unable to get a signal.

Outside, we heard the explosion as, what we now know was a third plane, hit the Pentagon. We saw the smoke. Heard the sirens. A police officer told us to get away from the Capitol. There were still unaccounted for planes. The Capitol was a target. Someone else said they'd heard the bridges out of DC were closed. Others said they'd heard the Old Executive Office Building, next to the White House, had been hit.

The skies were eerily silent and the streets were loud with the sound of sirens and cars packed into traffic jams. People were silent, their faces stony with stunned looks.

Quite a few of us ended up huddled on the floor of a Congressman's apartment. He had only one chair and no television. We listened to the radio for news and were reminded of Pearl Harbor. None of us could reach our families through cell phones. The Congressman had a land line telephone, so he called his staff in a distant state, gave them the contact information for all our families and had his staff call our families to tell them we were safe.

We learned of the downed plane in Pennsylvania. We wept for all those lost.

Sometime after 5:00pm the streets were clear enough for us to head home. Washington, DC was silent, hushed. I got my car and drove people out of the city, to their homes, to train stations. We drove past the smoking Pentagon with it's blackened void.

9.11.2001 I will never ever forget. A world shattered and the pieces still falling back into place.

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