Witnessed the Pentagon

Date Submitted: 02/03/2004
Author Info: Christopher (Baltimore, MD - USA) 
Occupation: Accounting/Finance
Lived in NY on 9.11.01?: No
Knew someone who perished?: Yes

On September 11 I was working asa bond trader in Arlington Va on the 16th floor of a fiancial firm about a mile away from the Pentagon. On the day, I walked into work and saw the TV’s on the trading floor were already showing footage from the first plane hiiting the towers. Nobody knew what had happened at this point and there was speculation that it was a small plane. Working in the financial industry and having been to the WTC several times for business meetings I knew immediatley that this was not good. The average bond trader got to work around 7 am, and I knew that there were several trading firms there which meant bad news.

We continued to go about our everyday activities as more people started to trickle into the office as we updated them on what was happening. We all watched in shock as the second plane hit the tower and you could feel the fear and uncertainty in the room. Messages were flashing on my bloomberg trading system from other professionals in NYC, who were saying that NYC was being attacked and that they were fleeing or shutting down there offices. I called a friend who worked in Jersey City who said they saw everything from across the water and that their building shook when the second plane hit. He said he was leaving immediately. Somewhere around this time I noticed something out of the corner of my eye and I heard someone in the office yell something to the extent of “look at how low that plane is flying!” As I looked out the window I saw a huge billowing fireball explosion developing just across a line of trees. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. It seemed so close to home now. My first thought was that the city was about to be attacked full on.

A wave of panic overtook everyone in the office and little was said. Fearing more planes people started quickly gathering there things and making brief phone calls to loved ones. I remember calling my girlfriend who worked in the media in Dulles VA. I told her that the Pentagon had just exploded and that I was leaving the office. It turns out her workmates did not believe her immediately as it had not hit the news yet.

As we were heading for the emergency stairwell, someone came over the loud speaker asking everyone to evacuate the building. As we managed our way down the sixteen floors to the ground I remember feeling a sense of fear come over me that I have never felt before. We heard that there was at least one other missing plane on its way to Washington and it just made people hurry faster. I did not know where it would be safe, after all my apartment was directly under the flight path for Washington National Airport.

When we made it all the way downstairs to the street it was business as usual for everyone else. No one seemed to know what had just happened so close to us. I remember what a beautiful day it was and how clear the sky was and that it seemed impossible for such terrible events to be taking place in the midst of such beauty. As our fellow workers spoke on the street and walked to their cars people were trying to figure out what just happened. There was no confirmation of what had been hit, we knew it was a plane becuase people had seen it. Someone said what did they hit and our boss said “The Pentagon”.

As I cautiously drove my car home and listened to the radio, little did I know that I would make it home (about 2 miles away) in time to witness the towers falling. Little did I know that many colleagues of mine would perish that day.


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