I pass by the helicopter pad at the Pentagon every day on my way to work. Every. Single. Day. Before today, I never had a thought about being a victim of a terrorist attack.
It was a fortuitous morning for me. Really it was. I live pretty much across the street from the Pentagon. Had I not stayed at home to watch the footage of the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York, I would have been passing right by the helicopter pad when the plane hit. As it was, I was just about to turn into to the Pentagon parking lot when I heard a loud boom. I thought it was my car. My car is 16 years old — I thought maybe it was finally giving up the ghost. I got out of the car to look under the hood, expecting a fire or something. Little did I know the fire was a mere 100 yards away.
My mind isn’t really prepared to handle all this. Terrorist attacks happen to other people, in other countries and in other neighborhoods. This is America. We are secure. I thought.
For the longest time, the whole experience had a definite surreal aura surrounding it. Until I got to work. As I drove to work I heard about the explosion on the National Mall (where the monuments and Smithsonian are); the car bomb in front of the State Department, the plane crash in Pittsburgh. I work for a company that, among other things, does research and development for many branches of the military and the Department of Defense. I had not been at work for more than 15 minutes when they announced that if Threatcon went up another level they were going to lockdown the building and no one would be allowed to enter or leave. I burst into tears. This can’t be happening! My mind just isn’t prepared to deal.
I wish I had something wonderfully profound to say but I don’t. I’m just too shell-shocked. But other than that I’m alright. My thanks to all of you who jumped into IRC, ICQ, AIM and sent me mail. I’m going to go cry some more now.