My Memories of 9/11

On September 11 I was a 36-year-old father of a four-month-old in Washington, DC, and was in the middle of three months of paternity leave from my job. I am also a part-time architectural photographer, and that morning I had a 10:00 AM meeting regarding an upcoming project. So shortly after 9:30 AM I packed little Isaac into his car seat in our red Ford Focus station wagon and we went to my meeting.

Our car radio was set to National Public Radio so when I turned the car on it came on too. The reporter was describing something about the White House being evacuated—I think there were also report of a possible bombing or fire—but Isaac was being fussy so I turned the radio off so I could sing to him while driving to my meeting. In the back of my mind I thought of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast. The meeting was a one-on-one and she had not turned on the news that morning, so neither of us knew what was happening.

About 11:00 AM I packed Isaac back into his car seat and we drove up Georgia Avenue. As we approached Walter Reed Army Medical Center I entered a traffic jam caused by drivers streaming out of the Medical Center in what looked like an evacuation, and then I remembered the surreal news clip. I turned the news back on and that’s when I learned.

We drove home and I put Isaac down for a nap, and then spent the rest of the day watching it on television. My memories are a mixture of shock, disbelief and horror. Our friend Andy came over at some point. My wife Jean was at work downtown, where she could see the smoke from the Pentagon, and made it home by mid-afternoon. We all saw the second tower collapse in real time.

Jean, Andy and I spent the rest of the day watching the events unfold on television and trying to process it all while also playing with and tending to Isaac. We watched late into the night.

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