Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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9/11 story won't end with Osama bin Laden

A lot of people celebrated the demise of Osama bin Laden this week. Judging from comments reported in the press, more than a few folks are treating his death as though it somehow closes the book on the 9/11 attacks.

Right after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, I emailed a Marine officer I knew who often worked there. No response. When I finally talked to him days later, he told me that he had scheduled two conflicting meetings the morning of Sept. 11. He had decided to attend the first half of one of them—at the Navy Annex up the hill from the Pentagon—then head back down to the Pentagon and try to catch the second half of the other one. Driving down the hill from the first meeting, a plane came in low over his car and crashed into the Pentagon, hitting the E Ring at the site of his second meeting.

I am pretty sure I know how he felt when he heard the news this week. But I also am pretty sure he doesn’t think anything is over.

Not many of us have a story like that, although many of us in the Washington area felt the explosion, saw the smoke, heard the sirens, and encountered the roadblocks. We watched and heard copters and fighter jets flying overhead for days on end. And for the first time, we saw police patrolling streets with automatic rifles, and soldiers posted along roads in Humvees outfitted with machine guns. Americans around the country saw the same thing on their TVs. And all of us knew that things had changed.

A former colleague, a journalist for a national magazine, was staying at a hotel across from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. She fled the building after the attack and, with the masses of people in the street, struggled among the debris through choking smoke and ash to Battery Park, convinced she would die. Boats finally came to take her and others across to Jersey City. She filed a short but gruesome eyewitness account for her magazine.

I imagine her reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death is far more complicated.

When you picked up the newspaper or turned on the TV Monday morning, what was your reaction? You probably have a story to share, too.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on May 03, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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