If you’re in your mid-20s or older, you probably remember exactly where you were and what you were doing and thinking 12 years ago today.
Sept. 11, 2001. New York City, the Pentagon and Somerset County, Pa. Airplanes hijacked. Thousands killed. Many horribly maimed, for life. For a different generation, this was our Pearl Harbor — except that we watched it on live TV.
Our offices here are in the Cleveland Park section of D.C. We are close to the National Cathedral and have a good view looking downhill into Georgetown, the monuments. And the Pentagon. A group of us were in a training class on the fourth floor when somebody came in and asked what was happening in New York. We didn’t know it at the time, but a hijacked plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. That was 8:46 a.m. We didn’t know until later (9:03 a.m.) when the other tower was struck that this was no accident.
My oldest son had just left the Pentagon, heading into downtown D.C., when another hijacked plane crashed it at 9:37 a.m. We saw the fire and smoke from my office. It burned much of the day.
A friend, Ann D., who worked in that part of the Pentagon was running late because she had to take her husband to the doctor. By the time she was ready to come in, her office was gone.
My youngest son was in a training session at Dulles Airport. The plane that crashed into the Pentagon took off from Dulles. So, in a sense, I had sons at both ends. Not a close encounter, but still unsettling.
I know two people who were supposed to be on the Pentagon flight that day. One, in the private sector at the time, was in D.C. but supposed to fly to L.A., out of Dulles, on 9/11. There was a flap, however, and she had to leave a day early, on Monday. She’s now with the Interior Department.
The father of a friend of my daughter, a Swedish researcher at the National Institutes of Health, was also supposed to be on the Dulles-to-LA flight. But he arrived late and they wouldn’t board him.
Shortly after 9/11, I met two senior air traffic controllers at an FAA Managers conference. One said she had just come to work when the first plane crashed. She had dropped her kids off at day care, come into the office. They briefed her on what had happened and she started a very long day.
Another senior controller said when he reported for work, he was told the Pentagon, White House and either the CIA or State Department had been hit. Lots of misinformation that day. And that there were dozens of unidentified aircraft heading for Washington. Oh, and that the presidents’ plane had just taken off from Florida — destination then unknown — and that it was being trailed by two unidentified aircraft.
Many excellent documentaries have been made of 9/11 and the aftermath. The performance of federal, military and state and local firefighters, EMTs and cops that day was remarkable. At the WTC and the Pentagon.
9/11 was a permanent game-changer. Now, getting into a government building is not so easy. Even if you work there. Now people are searched going into football games.
The funny thing is that I think I can remember just about everything about that day. Down to what I didn’t eat.
But I can’t remember the day after.
Furloughs, layoffs, health premiums
With the new fiscal year fast-approaching, federal workers face a number of potential threats to their jobs: Everything from a continued pay freeze to layoffs. And changes in their health benefits. Today at 10 a.m., Greg Stanford joins us on our Your Turn radio show. He’s director of government affairs for the Federal Managers Association. Later in the show he’ll be joined by senior Federal Times writer Sean Reilly who’ll bring us up to speed on what’s next?
Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.
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