September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Story:I sat at my desk working on lesson plans commemorating the upcoming anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor when my brother called to tell me he heard that a plane hit one of the twin towers. Initially I chuckled, because not but a week before a person hang gliding (or something close to that) stuck themself onto the Statue of Liberty. When we talked we thought it had to be an accident of a very small plane.
A few minutes later, my mother called from CT and told me that both towers had been struck and she witnessed it live on TV. She was in complete shock, as was I. I tried to pull up anything on the web, but it was frozen. At that moment, the Museum Director flung open my door telling me that the World Trade Center had been hit.
We were all pretty stunned, but kept working because we didn't have any information--until the 3rd plane struck the Pentagon. I work at the Washington Navy Yard which is but a few miles from the Pentagon. There is a decommissioned ship here, USS Barry, and the sailors on board it saw the Pentagon explosion from the deck of the ship.
My Director again ran into my office and told me we had to evacuate the building of visitors because the Pentagon had been attacked. He was a basket case, but I tried to remain calm I walked around telling visitors that they would have to leave. At the time, a group of Navy WWII veterans were in the museum, and they weren't too concerned. Sadly, their bus was not allowed to leave the Navy Yard because we experienced a lockdown--no one could leave or enter the Yard.
I returned to my office and was able to call my Mom to tell her that I was okay, which was good because the phone lines were jammed for the next few hours. She hadn't gone to work yet so was still at home watching this on TV. After a few minutes, we were all called to an emergency staff meeting, so I had to get off the phone with Mom and it was very difficult. At that moment I was very scared that DC might not make it through the rest of the day in one piece, and that I might not see anyone I loved again.
From that point on, the museum staff was glued to a poorly-working TV in one room and a small radio in another. No one could leave, so we watched and listened.
Seeing the towers fall to the ground for the first time was overwhelming. Also around that time, late in the morning, a lot of reports--later proven false--about explosions at the White House, State Dept, and Capitol circulated in the news causing everyone a lot of worry.
By noon, the Navy Yard opened for people to leave in stages by distance. I was in the last group to leave because I live 8 miles form work. As a result I left work about 1:30 and was the last one in the Museum. It was very creepy, because I could see the smoke from the Pentagon out our front entrance--in fact through the museum's periscopes the fire and smoke could be seen quite well.
I went home a different route than normal because I usually drive by the Pentagon to get home. The highway was closed near there, so I avoided traffic and went the long way. I decided to stop and buy some groceries at a local market before going home in case anything else was to happen later in the day or week.
To my surprise the store was pretty empty for the middle of the day. One thing that I noticed was that everyone was looking up, and nodding, half-smiling, or acknowledging everyone in their paths. It was kind of comforting, because I couldn't get the tears out of my eyes.
When I got home, my brother watched everything on TV and caught me up on the latest news. I found that a lot of my friends tried to get in touch to be sure I was okay. Earlier at work, email networks were down, but when emails moved, I tried telling everyone that i was okay. All I could do was sit down because it was all so unbelievable and very scary. Later that day, I sent emails to friends of mine in NYC to check on their well being.
Before going to bed that night, I took a good look up in the sky at the stars. From our apartment we heard jets and helicopters circling the Pentagon and DC all night. It was very disconcerting and unreal. I thought for sure we would be attacked again.
Upon awaking the next morning, I walked out onto our balcony to see that the Pentagon was still on fire, and heard air traffic again. At that point, I was relieved that we made it through the night, but did not know what would come next.