September 11: Tell Your Story

Add your story

Contribute to the historical record of September 11


View the featured stories
Browse all stories



The September 11 Digital Archive

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Smithsonian “September 11:
Bearing Witness to History”

     Story of September 11
<< Return to previous page

Contributed by: Sarah Lagasse
Contributor's location on 9/11:
Contributed on: 23 August 2002

How did you witness history on September 11th?

I am a Pentagon Police Officer and I had just briefed my traffic squad of the situation in New York and told them to be careful. I went into the Pentagon for a staff meeting and as I was waiting, I was doing what most of America was doing, watching the news. I couldn't belive what was happening. As I stood there, all of a sudden I heard a transmission over my police radio that stated "a plane has just hit the building." I couldn't believe what I had heard, I ran to the phone and called dispatch. I asked if I heard correctly, they said yes and I was on my way outside. There were people running out the doors with panicked looks on their faces. Officer Ochoa and I ran outside together. As soon as we got out of the building, it was dark outside, from all the smoke. I looked at Officer Ochoa and I told her we weren't dying today. Both of us were terrified because our fiances worked at the Pentagon too and we had no idea if they made it out alive. As we drove to the heliport side of the building, I couldn't believe what I saw. There were millions of pieces of debris everywhere and the building had this gaping whole of fire. I saw my fiance and hugged him, that was the best hug of my life. We told each other to be careful and that we loved eachother and that was the last I saw of him for hours. Unfortunately, Officer Ochoa didn't have the same luck, she didn't find her fiance until three hours later. I left the supervisor's truck out for supplies and ran to the building. There were some additional explosions (acetalyne tanks) after a few minutes, that is when the fire department shouted to get back. I ran back to the truck and assisted the fire department in setting up the triage that nobody came to. Later, I assisted in guarding evidence for the FBI. For the numerous weeks following the 11th, I assisted families in locating vehicles of loved ones they lost and guarding the rubble pile for the FBI.

Has your life changed because of September 11, 2001?

Yes, I believe everyone's lives have changed. I feel very lucky to be alive and to have my husband with me. It was nice to get home after 12 hours working on the 11th to listen to our answering machine. So many people called to check on us - its amazing how many people's lives you touch. It was good to know so many of our friends love us and thought of us immediately when they heard about the atack. I live for each day. I know that there will be another attack and that it could be tomorrow. I make sure I tell my family and friends that I love them. I try to soak in everything, notice everything, realize just how wonderful the simplest things are and that we should treasure them. We have spent a lot of time together and with our family and friends. That is what is important now. As of Septemeber 12, 2001, its more about the little things that make you happy.

What do you think should be remembered about September 11th?

The people of the United States of America were more united than ever. I also belive we should remember all the innocent people that were lost and the families they have left behind.

Did you fly an American flag after the events of September 11th?

Yes. I think the flag is beautiful and that everyone in this country should fly it. I know everytime I hear the Star Spangled Banner I cry. The land of the free...I can't believe someone would attack us because we are free.

Cite as: Sarah Lagasse, Smithsonian Story #390, The September 11 Digital Archive, 23 August 2002, <>.
Archival Information: 381 words, 1946 characters

<< Return to previous page