Friday, September 10, 2004


Three Years On

Elephant Recalls 9/11

Like most people in Washington, DC or New York on the morning of 9/11/01, I'm haunted by the fact that it was the perfect morning. Cool, sunny and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue. I was putting on my tie to head downtown for a job interview with a large trade association when the Today show cut to footage of a gaping hole in the side of one of the World Trade Center Towers. The affable Katie Curic reported that a small commuter plane had hit the tower, but the firery hole dwarfed the helicopters that were flying past it.

I switched off the TV and jumped on the metro to get to the interview. Meanwhile the second plane had hit. Arriving at the interview the flat panel TV in the lobby was reporting the attack. Not knowing what to do, the HR staff and I continued with the preliminaries of the interview and they shuffled me off to talk the government relations VP. While we chatted, a large plume of smoke appeared in the sky across the Mall. The secretary came in, tears in her eyes and noted that the Pentagon had been hit and the city was being evacuated. The interview closed at this point and I went out into the streets.

Rumors were rampant that Washington Monument was on fire (I looked up and noted it wasn't) and that the USA Today Building and State Department had been hit too. People were pouring out of offices and cars were lined up to get out of the city. Still everything remained quiet and the sky remained hauntingly blue. Most of the police seemed to be engaged in protecting and evacuating members of Congress and the Adminstration and near the corner of 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, a homeless man directed traffic. I stopped for a cigarette infront of the FBI building and then re-evaluated my choice of a resting place. An F-16 fighter jet roared over the street and banked left toward the Pentagon.

I caught up with some colleagues who heard reports that the metro had been shut down (it hadn't), so we ducked into the District Chop house to grab drinks and discuss what was happening. The thing that stands out in my mind is how little we saw or heard from the President that day. As political animals we kept commenting on how important it was that he speak to a shocked nation. We heard from the Taliban before "W" made some feeble comments on the fact that we'd 'apparently' been attacked. (Really, do you think so?!). Thank goodness for Rudy Giuliani, his stoicism and compassion filled the vacuum left by Bush.

We finished our drinks, left a hefty tip for the staff and retreated to our homes passing several humvees. At home, friends gathered to watch the horrifying news on TV.

The next morning I had to drive out to Tyson's Corner for a CLE course. As I approached the memorial bridge you could still see the smoke pouring out of the Pentagon. Some one had draped a flag across on overpass on I-66 and seeing it, I got way choked up.

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