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A moment of prayer for those that died Sept 11, 2001


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this is from my daughter's blog- she works on the Hill in DC- I didn't read it till this afternoon, but it blew me away-


Sunday, September 9, 2007


The day after tomorrow is September 11th.


It'll be the fourth year I've lived here on that day and like each year before it, I've become a little anxious. It's only natural, and I'd imagine that I'm not the only one.


So for weeks, I've thought about it. Will I take Metro? Will I run down by work like I do every Tuesday morning? Will I stay underground to get between buildings, even if it's nice outside?


Of course, we've been on slightly higher alert anyway. It was reported before recess that there's been heightened "chatter" related to a possible new threat against the Capitol.(http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/19681-1.html) We've had more evacuation drills, we get e-mails telling us to wear our staff IDs at all times, and our emergency annunciators and escape hoods have been checked and re-checked. To do my part, I've closed the blinds on the large window behind my desk to keep out any wayward shards of glass.


So we go on day to day, but sometimes it comes up in converstion almost out of the blue. Like the other day, when we were debating which would offer us the best chances of survival--another airplane, a car bomb, a man strapped to explosives... which could we best outrun? For which would we be offered the best protection by our location on the fourth floor inside the secure perimiter and for which would we be hopelessly stuck waiting to get down the stairwell upon impact? That's usually the point at which the conversation ends, replaced by a cough or a joke or silence.


My coworkers--the newbies--have asked what it's like during a "real" evacuation. I've been through two big ones. The first was the week of President Reagan's funeral. I was interning and hadn't been there long, and I just remember a mass of people at the top of the fourth floor stairwell, unmoving. When we finally got downstairs the police were yelling at us to get out, go, run as far as we could... and we did. It was terrifying and getting from the office to the outside took 17 minutes, but I don't remember much more.


The second was maybe two years later. I was in a different building; five floors up this time. We gathered, hurried down the hall and found an impenetrable bottleneck. So we continued down the hall to the front of the building where the stairs were wider, and we could hear people yelling to move, get out. Our exit was quicker this way but it left us on Independence Avenue, directly in front of the Capitol, and that was nowhere to be. The street was eerily silent--dozens of cars, doors open and in many cases still running sat abandoned. As we ran around to the side of the building the other female in my office and I tried to take off our 3 inch heels. I got mine but she stumbled and fell, and was quickly scooped up by another coworker. Police were everywhere, yelling, and people were running and I don't remember where we stopped or when we knew it was over, but somehow we knew, and it was okay.


So I tell them these stories but I always follow them with the disclaimer that those days were nothing like that day. That day, when a similar evacuation played out--before they knew they needed blackberries and annunciators and escape hoods and before people began to develop siren anxiety--after they saw the news of the planes and the towers in New York and after many offices noticed that something big seemed to have caught fire near the Pentagon. That day, when cell phones wouldn't work and the news reported frantically that bombs were going off in the Metro. That day, when thousands of people from all backgrounds realized the only way to leave the city was to walk... so they did. For miles, confused and dirty and tired and barefoot across bridges and into Arlington, where the black smoke from the Pentagon hit the sky. That day, when people gathered with strangers but no one spoke.


I can't imagine what it must be like in those last moments before an airplane smashes through a wall, or before a car or person explodes on a crowded street. It must be slow, and silent, and I have to believe there's an incredible calm that fills the body before it instinctively moves to brace for impact and at the same time, protect those around it. I suppose after that comes darkness, and that's when things really get terrifying because you just... cease to exist. What are your last thoughts? How long can you fight it, and how horrible is that last realization that you can't hang on anymore, that you've lost control and you're leaving this world? But it's real and it's possible and they want to do it again, so it's part of me to the point where I can usually push it to the back of my consciousness and forget that as much as I wish I could change things, I'm mortal.


I'm fairly certain that Tuesday will come and go, like any other day. The sun will rise and set on my shining city, and although there'll be more news coverge, memorials, and revolting displays by conspiracy theorists who disgustingly believe our government--my government, the individuals with whom I work and in whom I put my absolute trust and admiration--planned that day... when it's over, it'll be over for another year. But it'll never again be normal. We know now that we're never safe. So we'll still watch, and wait, and keep our blinds closed and our instincts ready. And hope for another day.

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thank you so much for all the kind comments- although I don't agree with all her viewpoints I am so proud of her for charging into the thick of that mess every single day to try to do what's right.


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