Eleven years ago, on a sunny Tuesday very much like today, I was sitting in a public library statistics steering committee meeting with some of my colleagues from other states and some "feds." We were at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase, right over the DC line, in what we natives used to call "Friendship Heights." Someone came in around 9 am to let us know that a plane had just hit one of the World Trade Towers in New York. By the time we had caught our breaths, planes had hit the other tower and the Pentagon, and all of the federal workers were heading home. Washington seemed under attack, they said, and the DC Metro was shut down.
We librarians huddled together in one room, watching TV most of the day. All of the stores and most of the restaurants nearby closed, including the grocery store, and the streets were deserted. We tried to call home with little success, since the phone lines were jammed all over the country with people calling each other. I finally got through to Paul and then to Chris to let them know I was OK. Then came the arduous task of trying to get home. All flights in and out of DC were cancelled, and there were no rental cars to be had. The hotel was extremely helpful, despite being short-staffed, and we found a restaurant around the corner open for dinner. Stores reopened Thursday, but the atmosphere was somber.
The following day, we gathered again and, despite the lack of federal employees, got back down to business. We were stuck anyway, so we might as well get some work done. Some of the "feds" did call to check on us. But most people in the DC area, we noticed, were sticking close to family and home. One by one, we found transportation back to our states, and I ended up taking the train home on Friday, a 14 hour ride due to a tense delay outside New York City. We became family that week, and while I would much rather have been home with Paul and Chris, I can't think of a better group of people to go through such an unsettling time with: Keith, Carolyn, JD, Libby, Mary Jo, Suzanne, Darla.