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10 Years Ago Today


B.A.R.
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I had just started my third year in law school. I was walking to the Metro with Azami, late to Secured Transactions per usual. I remember thinking that Metro was unusually informative that morning: "The Pentagon station is closed due to a terrorist attack on the Pentagon." After a short debate and conversation with Azami, I went to school anyway because there was no other place that made sense to be, even though school was six blocks from the Capitol. We all sat in the basement pub, glued to the television in near silence.

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It was Member Number One's birthday. She was resting upstairs, her mom and aunt were puttering around the house, and I was downstairs on the computer. I got an AOL IM from a friend: 'Hey Don, did you hear that a plane just flew into the World Trade Center?'

Huh?

We all spent the next ... hour? two hours? ... huddled around the TV. During that time, we saw the second tower hit, and I remember saying, 'what was that?', and one of the analysts said, with heavy resignation in his voice, 'yeah ... it's a terrorist attack.' Later, a Pentagon correspondent was reporting live, and said (I'm going from memory here), 'I don't mean to worry anyone, but I just heard an explosion.'

At that point, I realized, in horror, that Matt was at JCC pre-school.

"I have to go get Matt!" I said.

I will never forget the look on the face of a woman in the parking lot, getting out of her minivan, to pick up her kid. I signed Matt out, took him to his mom's, and they came up with tentative plans to head towards Richmond (or was it Charlottesville) in case things got worse.

After I got back home, we all decided to head west, so we drove out I-66 to the Appalachian Trail, where we parked, and took a walk for a few hours. We came across an overnight shelter that had a guest book, and I signed it (with a short note saying that hikers may want to check the news reports), and dated it September 11, 2001. Somewhere, that book is still around. Later that afternoon, when it appeared things had stabilized, we all headed back and had a quiet dinner at home.

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I rode my motorcycle into work, not noticing how quiet things were.

I was working in Small Hall at the Engineering school at UVA. I had my own office and when I logged into my machine, I saw the Pep Band mailing list exploding with e-mails about what had just happened. I had no TV, and CNN.com was barely responsive, so it was mostly conjecture that I saw. We plotted out radiation plumes and the such from DC just in case. I spent hours trying to call my buddy Sgt. Zeno, who I knew worked at the Pentagon. (Fortunately, he was at Ft. Myer that day.)

But, later, we had to work. I was so distracted I nearly dropped my bike repeatedly trying to go to lunch and to various other buildings. In one building the class just sat there, watching TV. I peeked in as I went by and the professor slammed the door in my face. I don't know his name but I still remember his face clearly.

I had a number of issues with my boss during my time at UVA and one thing I couldn't get over that day was how he seemed to ignore what was happening and insist that we keep working. It was months later that I found out he had multiple relatives in the WTC.

I went home from work, got my car, and we drove out to a bar to get very very drunk. One of my friends had a roommate who had just moved here from Sweden and was bewildered that entire week.

Two days later I got news that our family dog had been put to sleep.

That week finally got me to do something I'd needed for years - I went to a therapist and eventually started taking anti-depressants. So, in all probability, 9/11 saved my life. Without that help, I might not be here today.

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I heard about the first tower on NPR as I drove the five minutes to work. Ran up the stairs as soon as I got there and turned on the tv. Saw the second tower get hit. Called a friend in Brooklyn to tell her to find a tv. Realized I couldn't get a hold of Mr. BLB. Then the Pentagon was hit. Went up on the roof of my office building--a block from the Supreme Court to see if we could see smoke. Waved down by the police on the roof. My boss called and said to get the hell out of the office and off Capitol Hill. Drove to Mr. BLB's apartment--left my car in a parking spot at 15th and K due to gridlock. Met him there and watched. And cried. And then cried more when the passenger list for Flight 77 came out. Had Kraft Mac and Cheese for dinner because it was the most comforting thing we could think of.

Went to work the next day. My boss took me to the Hawk and Dove. We sat outside and drank beer. Did anyone get any work done on September 12th?

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We were living at Ft. Belvoir, I was home w my toddler daughter, my son had just started 1st grade at Ft. Belvoir Elementary. My neighbor from across the street phoned, & told me to turn on my tv, that a plane had just hit the WTC. Shortly after that came the news about the Pentagon -my husband was working at Perscom then, in the Hoffman bldg., but was over at the Pentagon frequently. I tried to pick Tom up at school, but found out the school went on lockdown almost immediately. I spent the rest of the day glued to the tv, worrying, until my husband called that afternoon.

Although I did not know anyone who died that day (some friends & neighbors evacuated from the Pentagon), our lives were certainly changed by the event.

I saw an increased security presence when I went on post this morning (including an ominous looking 15 man team dressed all in black, climbing out of a van) & when I just ran out to pick up dog food, the Home Depot on Rt. 1 was cordoned off, w/ police & a bomb squad, w/ fire trucks arriving...& it doesn't even seem strange....

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I was working in downtown Bethesda when a co-worker called me into the conference room to watch on TV what was going on in NYC. Then word came of an attack on the Pentagon and of the Capitol possibly being targeted. Through a swirl of rumors and misinformation, it seemed that Metro had been shut down, so another co-worker drove me to her home near the Cathedral. After sitting in her apartment trying to decide how or if to go back to Capitol Hill, I finally decided to walk home.

As I made my way down Massachusetts Avenue, it struck me that I was virtually the only person walking into the District; I was dodging dozens of people walking away from the heart of the city, following the stream of cars doing the same thing. In the distance I could see the smoke from the Pentagon. Arriving in Dupont Circle, nearly every storefront was closed and the streets were nearly deserted. Street closures meant that I had to repeatedly change course, but I got close enough to the National Mall to see that it was totally devoid of human life except police, one of the eeriest sights I have ever experienced. After further detours around the Capitol and closer to Union Station, I finally made it home. Sitting on my couch, sunburned and drained, I looked out my window overlooking Lincoln Park and saw a squadron of at least two dozen military Humvees circling the park.

What became important to me in the weeks following was to spend time outdoors on the Mall in order to see human life returning to its open spaces, a practice I have tried to maintain each 9/11 since, rather than turning on the news media. Today I did the same, walking down East Capitol through the Capitol grounds, which were surrounded by police. Looking up, I flinched to see sharpshooters on the roof of the Capitol. But reaching the Mall, I was gratified to see it filled with people in a way it was not ten years ago. But no walk home will ever be the same as that one from the Cathedral to Lincoln Park.

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A day late, oh well...

I worked in DC, and lived in Virginia, near Landmark Mall. We had bought a house in Falls Church but had not yet moved in. My commute to work was a bus, then Metro. The transfer point was the Pentagon.

I had missed my bus that morning, and the next bus was about an hour later, since rush hour was ending. So I was fairly late, but no big deal, I could make it up on the back end. Fairly normal commute. My bus got to the Pentagon Metro; there was no sign of anything wrong. Although the news from New York had already broken, I don't think anybody around me had heard it yet. We were all just busy trying to get to work. Ah, the days before the smart phone.

So I went into the station and was waiting on the platform. It was relatively busy, not as bad as peak rush hour, but a fair number of people were on the platform. I heard what sounded like a door slamming open - it may have been, since there are doors into the Pentagon down there. Somebody yelled out what sounded like "Get out, there's a bomb in the building." I looked over in the direction of the entrance but couldn't see the person yelling. I could see people looking around, trying to figure out what was happening and whether this person was serious. The yell was repeated: "Get out, there's a bomb in the building." One more split second of people looking around, and then we were moving. Everybody rushed the exit. The turnstiles weren't an obstacle, we just hurdled those. Out to the escalators, and up at a full run, just hoping desperately to get out before anything happened. I got out to ground level and ran out towards the parking lot. The bus drop-off area was covered; as soon as I got out from under it I looked up and saw smoke billowing up from the Pentagon. I couldn't tell if it was from the middle of the building or the far side, but the side near me was intact. Seeing the smoke was a huge relief, because it was no longer something that might happen, it was something that had already taken place, and I was OK. It occurred to me then that the man in the station may have been yelling "they're bombing the building," not "there's a bomb in the building."

I kept walking away from the building; there were people milling around everywhere. One person was trying to get the attention of anyone who would listen. He claimed to have seen the plane hit. I tried calling my wife, but cell service was overloaded. Many people around me failed to call out; a couple of people got through. Different network, I guess. Then I overheard two people who had clearly been working in the Pentagon, and that's the first I heard about New York.

Hundreds of us walked over to one of the hotels in the area; I don't remember which one. I got in the very long line for the payphones. People were great. Everybody understood that as badly as they wanted to contact their families, friends or offices, so did everybody else. Conversations were quick, people got off the phones in a hurry, and in a surprisingly short time I was talking to my wife. She worked out near Chantilly at the time, and her office had been glued to the news. Afterwards many of us jammed into the hotel lounge to watch. I don't know if it was live or on tape, but I saw the second tower fall.

After a while of sitting there watching the horror on TV, I heard that Metro was running from Crystal City outbound, so I started heading home. On the way towards Crystal City there was a loud explosion, probably a fuel tank near the Pentagon. At Crystal City I called my wife again to tell her I was going home. I told her I was planning to start drinking heavily once I got home. She talked me out of that idea, so I stopped in a bakery and bought a large quantity of chocolate chip cookies instead.

I don't really remember anything else. Presumably I got on the Metro and made it home OK, and I'm sure I must have turned on the TV and glued myself to the couch, but I have no memory of the rest of that day.

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I was in college at Western Maryland College. Asleep when the twin towers were hit. I was woken up by room mate who was freaking out about something she had seen on the TV in the student lounge. She turned on the TV and we watched. I was very glad my brother wasn't at the Pentagon that day, as he is there frequently for his job. We were then evacuated to the basements of our respective housing dorms due to the plane crash in Pennsylvania and our proximity to Camp David.

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I was working in Dupont Circle. I rode the Metro to work and when I arrived, the receptionist told me that a plane hit the WTC. The staff all gathered in the break room and watched the story on TV. We locked down the building, ordered a ton of food from a restaurant a block away and prepared to shelter in place. We allowed people to leave if they wanted to but advised them to stay put. I stayed at the building until all the employees had gone home--this was in my old career in human resources, always looking out for the staff.

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