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The September 11 Digital Archive

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

     Story of September 11
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Contributed by: Ronald Frankoff
Contributor's location on 9/11:
Contributed on: 26 August 2002

How did you witness history on September 11th?

Pentagon Employee[Occupant of Rosslyn Swing Space]. This is to remember how the day of Terrorists attacking the Pentagon was just a few moments and 300' from the impact. I remember the day just as many others started. I was waiting for the Swing Space bus in Pentagon's South Parking E stop. I had just missed the bus head to Rosslyn at 8:45am, the bus driver who pulled away the way those drivers do when they see you coming, but can't wait. Well I was going to have another bus to catch. The newly renovated wedge of the Pentagon was going in faster that I had expected, and already some of the occupants were moving back to this area from our Rosslyn swing space. I knew of several offices from our HQ in the Pentagon who not long ago were in Rosslyn just 2 miles away. Now I don't know why I missed that bus but another one was only ten more minutes behind. I did get on that next bus. I was in my office getting the day going as I heard reports on a radio someone had on. Then I was in touch with the Pentagon as the Trade Center was attacked again. The person said they had to evacuate the Pentagon, and a quick good-bye. At first, we heard there was a Bomb that went off in the Pentagon, but the crash didn't take long for us to hear about. Everyone's cell phone stopped working, no service messages, for what ever reason. Maybe just over use by the CELLULAR providers. Computers didn't work and when they came back about an hour later we had very little work that could be done. People were very panicky, many when home before the release was announced, but nobody wanted to tell them everything was alright. Buildings in the Metro area were closing for the day. My car was in South Parking at the Pentagon, I had to find a way home; it was almost like fate but my phone rang it was my son on his cell phone asking if I needed a ride. YES. I was glad to take a ride. I waited outside my office in Rosslyn and as I remember the street was very empty, I was not the first to leave but the street was like Sunday morning real early. At last my ride arrives, what a mess on the outbound highways. My son stops at the corner. He steps out of the jeep he drives. Then just like out of some movie, we see the military helicopters going fast by us up the Potomac, as they head out of town. The remainder of the day I wouldn't go anywhere because I had no car to use. I did get a ride to the Pentagon that evening but couldn't retrieve my car, it was in the parking lot, that was now a tent covered lot and emergency vehicles and rescue people were hurrying everywhere. It would be two days before I got my car back. I just would have rather had some of the friends back.

Has your life changed because of September 11, 2001?

Yes. I still park in the Pentagon lot. I take a look at the new Pentagon building and the rebuilding worker's daily from the same spot. It takes a while to move forward with this tragety but I think the shock of this event has taken too many by surprise. Life is changing for everyone, more security for the Pentagon, and talk about the new building going to ready on 11 Sep 2002. People who are moving into this new space, are being given special treatment. Some tenants are or were there as before, just lucky.

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

Surely not all the newscasters making the same story sound like special announcements. I would remember the events of the day and what now was going to be a new reality.

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

Yes. Patriotic flags were everywhere. We flew one on the front porch, one on the car antenna and one on the side of the Pentagon.

Cite as: Ronald Frankoff, Smithsonian Story #437, The September 11 Digital Archive, 26 August 2002, <>.
Archival Information: 542 words, 2693 characters

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