Monday, September 11, 2023

Never Forgetting

Elaine L. Orr

You don't need to be an American to remember where you were on September 11, 2001. I was in an office in Washington, DC, about 10 blocks north of the Potomac River. A south-facing window showed the smoke rising from the Pentaton.

The fire was out very quickly, unlike in New York City. Because of the massive demand for news, we couldn't get on the Internet. TV and radio worked fine, and rumors rocketed around the office. A car bomb was said to have been found in front of the State Department -- not true, but the most persistent of the batch. It wasn't until I saw a two-inch "rumor-denied" piece in the next day's Washington Post, that I realized that rumor was also false.

Pentagon gap is below lowest-hanging traffic light

My office was three blocks west of the White House and eight east of the U.S. Capitol, so after the plance crashed in Pennsylvania, we worried about more planes en route to DC. For about an hour, traffice was gridlocked. I had come in on the Metro. Could we take the subway home? And when I say 'home,' I mean a friend's house. I was visiting from Iowa. With all air traffic stopped, several days later I could fly home, but not before then. 

My clearest memory is that I was the only one watching the office television who cried when the second tower came down. Were people numb? I never asked the others why they didn't cry.

Letter from school children after September 11th/
Fence at Arlington National Cemetery.
Such concerns are minor compare to what was happening at the Pentagon and in New York City.

On the 13th, I drove to Arlington, Virginia and parked close enough to walk to a spot next to Arlington National Cemetery. My parents are in there, and my mother sometimes worked in the Pentagon during World War II. The huge hole boggled my mind, as did the idea of 184 people dying there two days prior.

Lots of other people wanted a sense of community with the tragedy, as you can see by the sign hung on the fence that surrounds the cemetery. A couple dozen people stood or sat quietly, looking at the Pentagon.

Most years I write about September 11th. Maybe someone who lived through that time will be comforted, and perhaps someone who has no memory of it will feel the sorrow. We cannot forget.

                                                                   * * * * *

To learn more about Elaine L. Orr, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter 

No comments:

Post a Comment