[personal profile] demonbrat_98
It’s a cliché, but September 11, 2001 started out just like any other day. I lived in Northern Virginia, took the DC Metro past the Pentagon, through DC, to my office in Bethesda, Maryland. Just as I did every morning, I got to my office around 8:10 am, turned on my radio and started goofing off – checking my e-mail, checking CNN, checking various other websites, before actually starting work around 9:00. I don’t remember how I first heard the news, but I’m sure it was either the radio or CNN.com. I listened for a few minutes, then called my mother at home – “Hey mom, turn on the TV – a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. “ Of course, at this time, it was a tragic accident. I started talking to other people in my office, either telling them about it or just speculating with them. I was out in the common area talking about it with two or three other people, when someone poked their head out of their office and said “something just happened at the other tower!” We all crowded into her office to listen to the radio. We were all desperately trying to convince ourselves that the second incident was something like a news helicopter crashing into the other tower.

Sometime thereafter, I ended up back in my office. I had the radio on, which by now had switched from music to all news. Then came the reports that a plane had hit the Pentagon. I think I called my mother again – “can you believe this!!” This is where things get kind of hazy – some things I remember perfectly (the radio reports), others (when I found out about Flight 93) are hazy. Then the radio began reporting the usual mix of fact and rumors – the White House had been evacuated (true); other government buildings were being evacuated (true); there was a plane headed for the Capitol (maybe United 93 we found out later??) and the Capitol was being evacuated (true); there was a bomb at the State Department (false); something about the Treasury Department (a truck bomb – can’t remember?? False); there was a plane circling Dulles trying to use up all of its fuel (unknown); there was a fire on the National Mall (false). I was trying to work to keep my mind occupied, but needless to say, it wasn’t happening. I went to lunch fairly early, just for something to do – I remember thinking the “McDonald’s is still serving lunch, so the world isn’t ending.” (The fact that I was eating at Micky D’s is an indication of how strange the day was – I never eat lunch at Mickey D’s!) I didn’t (couldn’t) each much. But before I ate, I went to the Catholic Church across the street to pray – I was surprised at how empty it was.

Finally, around 12:30, we were told we could leave if we wanted to – why I didn’t leave earlier, I don’t know. One of the rumors I was hearing was that DC was going to shut down the Metro, so I decided to go – if they shut the Metro down while I was on it, at least I would be closer to home. It was amazing how deserted the Metro was - everyone had left DC hours earlier.
I remember they re-routed my train; rather than running through the middle of DC, it went towards Vienna and came around the outskirts. However, we still came up from underground at National Airport, and if you looked back (as we all did), you could see the smoke from the Pentagon. Nobody said anything, we all just stared.

My mother picked me up at the train station. She told me about her day. Katie had an intake meeting for the sheltered workshop she was starting, so my father had taken the day off to go to it. My father had been stationed at the Pentagon, but had left in the summer of 2000 and was now stationed across the river at Bolling Air Force Base. He had gone to work on Monday, to put his retirement papers in – needless to say, that was put on hold for several months! My mom said that getting to the meeting took the usual amount of time – 30 minutes or so. Coming back, it took almost 2 hours, and they too could see the smoke from the Pentagon! They also took Katie home with them, which was probably a good idea.

We spent the rest of the day watching the television and crying. We got several calls from people who remembered that my father had been stationed at the Pentagon, but couldn’t remember if he was still assigned there. I remember watching television that night and seeing the families searching for loved ones from Cantor Fitzgerald. I listened to one girl talk about her father and how much she loved him and how sure she was that he had survived, and that’s when I cried.

We found out today (ten years later), that my mother actually knew someone who had been killed – he had been a student of hers 30 years ago. Before we knew that, the closest we came to loosing someone was finding out that our next door neighbor SHOULD have been there. But she was pregnant with twins and had been on bedrest since June or July. Her boss and the woman that they brought in to replace her (a single mother), were killed. She commented once after her twins were born, “these babies saved my life.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years. I’ve seen articles talking about how 9/11 is being taught as history and I sit there and think, “it can’t be history – I lived it.”

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demonbrat_98

April 2017

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