9/11 Memories. Where were you?
My wife, Susan Schmidgall, and I were inside the White House on a tour when the 9/ll attacks occurred. We were just exiting the door of the White House that faces Lafayette Park when security and police officers appeared from EVERYWHERE and started yelling at us to evacuate... and to run. As we ran across Lafayette Park, we both looked back to see the huge cloud of smoke that we later learned was the Pentagon, thick steel barriers rising from the sidewalk outside of the black iron fence around the White House, and security officials everywhere - with guns, running, on horseback, and seemingly coming out of every shrub and corner on the grounds of the White House. Amazingly, we had pre-arranged for my cousin to pick us up after the tour at a particular intersection just on the other side of Lafayette Park. As we drove out of the city, through shortcuts and side streets that our cousin knew, police were throwing up barriers on the city streets and the sirens were so loud that we could hardly hear the radio reports of what was happening. We stayed with my relatives, with the ubiquitous sound and presence of low-flying helicopters and jet aircraft, until Friday of that week when air travel resumed. We were on one of the first flights out of the disconcertingly subdued, reopened Dulles Airport. Later on that tragic Tuesday, as we began to absorb what had happened, we spoke about how lucky we were. Our dear aunt gently corrected us, "No, you were not lucky, you were blessed." We will never forget.