The following is a repost from last year of my experience on 9/11:
We all have a story.
I know I do.
8 years ago today I was working up on Capitol Hill in a congressional office.
I remember watching the second plane hit the WTC on the little tv in the small lobby of a freshman congressman’s office. E-mails were going back and forth on a listserv of hill staffers.
“The EOB was hit.”
“A car bomb nailed the State Department.”
“The mall is on fire.”
“A plane hit the Pentagon.”
While only one of those actually happened, the e-mails capture the horror and chaos of that morning.
I joined a couple staffers by the window in the chief of staff’s office to gaze up into the sky to see if we could see any planes buzzing DC.
Thinking back, it was so surreal. I was actually looking up to see if we were being attacked. Never in my youth did I dream that was something I would ever have to do while living in this great nation.
Upon confirmation that the Pentagon had been hit, the Congressman ordered us to evacuate. A legislative assistant in the office told us to head to his apartment a few blocks up on Capitol Hill.
We ran down the stairs from the top floor of the Cannon building, and up the street. I still remember the hordes of fellow staffers doing the same thing; leaving high heels and papers behind them as they ran.
As I turned the corner to head towards the apartment I heard a loud boom.
“They hit the Capitol,” I thought to myself.
I turned back against the crowd and ran back around the corner to gaze up at what I thought was going to be a giant fireball.
Nothing. The Capitol still stood. And I actually smiled.
Thinking back, it could have been a sonic boom from a jet flying overhead, or maybe even some kind of secondary explosion from the Pentagon. I still have no idea what it was.
I started running towards the apartment again and finally got inside.
I had just run for my life. Unbelievable.
We gathered around the tv and tried to call loved ones to let them know we were ok. Obviously, cell service was disrupted, making it impossible to reach anyone.
Instead we eventually were able to use an intern’s calling card to call home. That same intern made 9/11 her first, and last, day.
After watching the horror of the Pentagon ablaze and the twin towers plummeting to the ground, I finally decided it was time to head home to my apartment in Georgetown. I hopped on the metro to Foggy Bottom and exited the station.
As I walked across the bridge into Georgetown, I remember looking out and seeing the smoke billowing from the Pentagon. I’ll never forget that sight.
I came home to dozens upon dozens of voicemails on my landline and cell from people, many of whom I hadn’t talked to in months or even years, asking if I was ok.
I couldn’t call many of them back. It was just too much.
We all have our stories from that fateful day 8 years ago. Where we were and what we were doing.
The horror and courage from those that actually lived that terrible experience must continue to serve as an example to all Americans.
We will persevere. We will never give up. We will win.
God bless America.