My Sept. 11 memory
I still can’t believe it’s been five years. I lived in Arlington, Va., close to the Pentagon at the time. That’s when my newspaper’s headquarters was based there. I remember a boom of sorts, but there used to be a weekly cannon blast in Arlington National Cemetery right behind me and I didn’t pay it much mind.
I worked the night shift and could pretty much sleep through anything.
The TV news was even running all that morning and I didn’t wake up … until … everyone, I mean EVERYONE kept calling me, which never happens. By the time I finally decided to pick up the phone, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing: terrorists hit New York and the Pentagon was hit. What?!
I had a broken arm that had just been placed in a cast days before. I hadn’t even mastered putting on pants with a zipper yet. I damn near fell over trying to put on my jeans so that I could find out why there was so much ruckus in my WWII-era condo building (in Arlington, Va.) that overlooked the Iwo Jima memorial.
Lots of the residents had loved ones who worked at the Pentagon, so they were rushing to the area hospitals. I hitched a ride with a couple who was looking for their son and the hospital was pure chaos. No one really knew or understood what was going on.
I tried to donate blood, but was told to come back after my cast was removed. I felt helpless. I needed to DO something constructive. I tried to cut off my cast thinking that somehow I could heal without it and then rejoin the Marine Reserves.
Watching the TV coverage was simply overwhelming at work and the paper kept getting bigger and bigger with all of the 9/11-related stories as more details and personal stories emerged.
We were all professionals and very composed that day. And many there had seen the Pentagon smoking on their way into work. I felt like I was working with a great group of Marines again in that newsroom that day.
The following is a Facebook post from Sept. 11, 2016, on the 15th anniversary of that horrible day.
That day was simply unbelievable in Rosslyn. Helped me see what was really important as I headed out from my apartment (within view of the Pentagon).
It was pandemonium in my building as people rushed to area hospitals to check on loved ones and co-workers at the Pentagon.
I somehow packed everything that mattered to me in a single backpack — and it wasn’t heavy. Minimal clothes, a few photos, my journals and some small mementoes. Didn’t know if I’d have a home when I returned, but I was ready to walk away.
Went into a nearby hospital with neighbors to donate blood but was turned away because my right arm had just been broken days before and was in a raggedy cast (from my attempts to cut it off as I watched the news).
It was like a call to action. I had to help. I had to get into the mix somehow. How dare they attack us! I shifted into Marine mode. It was on!
In the end, all I could do was head into USA TODAY early and contribute in the newsroom. It was wild hearing the stories of people on the road seeing the plane hit the Pentagon. We performed the public service of our lives in the end.