Remembering the Pentagon attack

File picture of the scene of the attack on the Pentagon, 11 September 2001 The attack on the Pentagon killed 59 plane passengers and 125 people in the building

What I remember most was the smoke. It was so very brown - a thick column gushing out of the side of Pentagon.

Funny how smoke doesn't gracefully billow when there's that much of it. It pours out, angrily, aggressively and if uglily were an adverb it would do that too.

I was in a taxi on my way to the bureau when my editor called my mobile, on what must have been one of the last calls to get through that day, and told me he could see smoke coming out of the Pentagon and I should go there instead.

I crossed the river to Virginia and got to the Pentagon 20 minutes after the hijacked plane burst a hole in the South West side of the building.

As everyone who was here remembers it was an incongruously beautiful September morning and the lawns which surround the Pentagon were already crowded with young men and women.

With the bright blue sky and warm autumn sun, for a bizarre moment I remember thinking it looked more like a scene from a college brochure than the evacuation of a building under attack.

Most of the soldiers I interviewed that morning were calm and determined to focus on doing what they could to help. A couple though were visibly shaking, stunned, as we all were by the enormity of what had just happened.

One man told he was still in his car when he heard the roar of the plane just overhead. He thought at the time it was strange that a plane should be flying that low.

Evacuating babies

I left the Pentagon to walk back into DC to the office. There were no taxis by then, only gridlock.

The route took me across the Washington Mall where under some trees I found a group of babies lying their cots, gurgling contentedly up at the leaves.

On the side of each cot was taped a sign with the words "Evacuation crib." The infants had been evacuated from the creche of a nearby federal office building.

Those babies were probably the only humans in Washington that day who didn't know what had just happened.

You slip into professional gear at times like that. It's easier to be a reporter than face the terror of being a parent.

It was only when I got home at midnight and lay on the bed with my sleeping five-year-old daughter that the tension of the day gave way to fear of what was to come.

There were Humvees in our neighbourhood, military jets flying overhead and the prospect of dirty bombs made us particularly anxious. Should we get the kids out of town and if so how and where?

It seems sort of silly today, but we looked around the house and wondered which room would be easiest to seal off if something poisonous was released into the air.

The following week the children returned to school and apart from a minute's silence and a morning spent learning the words to America the Beautiful, their lives were remarkably unchanged. If only that were true for everybody else.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Well said makkari, these conspiracy nuts will believe anything, if some one told them World war 2 never happened they would believe them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Even the shot above shows no wingmarks, either the wings sliced through that building or they didnt, certainly no cctv shows a plane, and after initial impact no debris anywhere, but hours later (long shadows) we are asked to believe that a tiny shiny piece of metal in AA colours is the only piece to survive, on the lawn? I think the pentagon spends too much on disinfo, part of the $2.3 trillion??

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Re7 exactly. Even the picture at the top of this page shows a big hole that has no sign of any wing damage.
    People get very defensive when you point out the facts

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    "Certainly". Big word - what level of "certain" are you using?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    re. no 3, the moment you suggest no plane hits, and you get these strange comments from the 'guardians' of the official story, attack you! (no.4) 2 vids of 86 were released, neither show a plane, the damage is a 16ft round hole, no wing marks, yet the BBC insists the wings entered the building, according to their CGI vid, makes you wonder what else is lies, theres certainly no plane@ flt 93 site

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Re number 5: I refer you to post number 4.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Re number4
    Go watch it on you tube, that ain't no plane.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Re: Number 3 and probably many more. Here we go. Another excuse for the conspiracy theorists to prove they are quite as nutty as the terrorists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Strange when you the watch the CCTV footage, that it looks like a missile. As its certainly not a plane.
    Either way too many people died unnecessarily. Our thoughts should be with them today

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    9/11 was a disastrous day for America and the free world. However, after 10 years it is now time to move on from those events.
    The world has always been dangerous. The only difference now is the threat to our way of life comes from terrorism and not rogue nation states.
    Al qaeda are now the threat to our way of life, not Napoleon or Hitler or Soviet Russia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    It is sad. But... the media hammers everyone with NINE ELEVEN over and over and over and over and... well... add a few more "overs". It becomes less about loss and more about who can suck a person's heart through a straw with a well crafted paragraph.

    Sad (for the real people who lost their loved ones)... sad (for all of us who have to listen to the insincere words)... sad... just because.


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