I’ve known fellow blogger Lynn Allen of Evergreen Politics for well over a year, but though we have spent many hours in deep conversation I never knew until now that she was at Ground Zero on 9/11.
Our reaction to the events of 9/11 is very personal for me. Five years ago, I was at Ground Zero, teaching a class in the Marriott Hotel, WTC 3, the third building on the World Trade Center Plaza.
After what felt like a huge earthquake, we were ushered out of the building by the Marriott staff and stood watching in fascination the fire burning in the upper reaches of WTC 1. It was hard to believe the story that was circulating: A helicopter had crashed into the building on this very clear morning. Then we saw the second plane come in, belly angled slightly toward us, and crash into WTC 2. This was a terrorist attack! We bought water and talked strategies for survival. We decided to head toward the Brooklyn Bridge and began making our way through the people running in every direction.
Just as we began going up the ramp to the bridge, WTC 2 collapsed, sending clouds of debris and hundreds of screaming people in our direction. We continued on, single file, covered in a fine, gray dust, like refugees in a war zone. Eventually, we reached Brooklyn and sunshine, and the beginning of a new phase in our personal and national history.
Lynn has an excellent guest column in the Sunday, September 3 edition of the Seattle P-I [“Is more violence and less safety what we want?“], in which she muses on an alternative way we could have responded to the tragedy of 9/11… a path in which we fought to bring the world closer together instead of tearing it apart.