September 11 — today — is the 11th anniversary of the terrorists’ attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Northern Virginia. Where were you on that day?
I was working in a federal building just across the bridge from the Pentagon. It’s a day I’ll never forget, as most Americans. I was the Human Resources Director for a key agency within one of the cabinet-level departments. People were coming to me asking what we should do. Having no preparation for such a horrible event, I floundered. But within minutes, I told my staff to leave the building.
Once outside of the building, I felt so vulnerable as I was out in the open. “What do I do next?”, I thought? What a horrible scene – people running, crying, and not knowing what to do.
Eventually, my carpool members and I met at my car (I was driving the carpool that day), which was three floors beneath another federal building. My thoughts were, “Oh, my gosh, if this building should be hit, we will certainly die as we are so far underground.” The word, FEAR, is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt.
On September 11, cell phones would not work nor would land lines. I couldn’t contact my family to tell them where I was and that I was OK. I knew they must be so worried.
The next obstacle was getting out from the underground onto the street. Imagine this – MANY cars running and at a stand still three floors underneath a very tall building that was a stone’s throw from the Pentagon. The fumes were choking. “What if we can’t get out?”, I wondered. Eventually we did, and as were crossed the bridge from D.C. into Virginia, the smoke was barrelling in the air around the Pentagon. It was heartbreaking knowing that people were killed in the massive building we were passing by.
Finally traffic was moving and I got in the area of my then home in Northern Virginia. I stopped at my daughter’s work and she had been disparately trying to reach me by phone. She saw me drive up, came running outside, and we grabbed each other and I cried profusely. I then went home to multiple phone messages (phones worked in my area) with people crying and asking me to call them. One call was from my other daughter who lived in Florida. My heart broke when I heard her message. She knew where I worked and how very close I was to the Pentagon. She was crying profusely in her message. I quickly called her and others to inform them of my situation.
What a day that September 11 was! I remember it so vividly as though it was just yesterday. Today, I pray for the families who were not as blessed as I was, and thank God for my blessings!