Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My 9/11 memory in Washington, D.C. - "Be careful what you wish for."

I've seen film director Paul Greengrass's wonderful film United 93 about seven times by now. It always gets me where I live. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475276/

Every time I see it, I think back to my friends and I at work on Pennsylvania Avenue the morning of September 11th, ten blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, across the street from the FBI headquarters and the Dept. of Justice.
And unlike most of you, I wonder if not but for the bravery and heroism of the United 93 Passengers & Crew, would I even be alive?
Or, alternatively, actually been an witness to the plane's descent into the Capitol building in an attempt to decapitate it, killing thousands of people and demoralizing the country even more than had happned by the attacks on the World Trade Center?

United we stand...

The symbol that was all over Arlington, Virginia in the days and months after 9/11. 
Including on my front door.

Thoughts on The Pentagon and 9/11
Let me relate a 9/11 anecdote that gives you some sort of insight into me, and informs my posts here. I lived for about 15 years in Washington, D.C., and while there, worked on behalf of some of the top law firms and business groups in town, doing all sorts of things on both Capitol Hill and along the K Street corridor. 
While doing so, I was fortunate to meet and befriend lots of very talented, committed and impressive people, including lots from the media, think tank and public policy sectors, as well as the diplomatic community.

On 9/11, I was a few weeks into working on a project for Crowell & Moring on behalf of our client, General Electric's Aviation division, for an upcoming federal trial that would take us to Dayton the following week for what was expected to be 6-8 weeks.

C&M is an international law firm headquartered in DC, and I worked at the main office on Pennsylvania Avenue, right across the street from the FBI headquarters and the Dept. of Justice, and adjacent to the Naval Memorial. 
After the initial reports of the attack in New York and on the nearby Pentagon just minutes after I walked into the office just after 8:30 am with my gym bag, in last time then we realized,  from our vantage point on the large wraparound patio balcony overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue that we had access to from the main reception lobby, we could see past the Old Post Office across the street to our west, and could clearly see the smoke rising up from The Pentagon to our southwest, where many of my neighbors in northern Arlington worked. 
The smoke from American Airlines flight 77 out of Dulles, bound for Los Angeles.

Being slightly closer to The White House than to the U.S. Capitol -but located high enough in the building to be in a position to have seen any attack on either- once we received word right before 11 am from the building's management company to evacuate the building because a plane within range of D.C. still hadn't been counted for and landed as ordered to -what we would all later all know as United Flight 93- I decided to forego playing the starring role of a sardine in a can on the always-crowded Washington Metrorail, and decided to walk the 7-plus miles to my home in north Arlington.

Mostly via K Street, up to M Street in Georgetown, and finally cross the Key Bridge over the Potomac river to Lee Highway in Arlington, and then west for a few miles.
Which is to say, along some of the most densely-populated real estate in the greater Washington DC area.

All along the road from Rosslyn going west, there were city, state and federal police cars everywhere because the fear was so great that there was a second surprise element of the attack that would take place before the end of the day, so police were on high alert for anything unusual, including attempts to blow up bridges.

When I got a few blocks away from the office after our evacuation was made mandatory and was near Metro Center, the middle of the Metro system in downtown DC, literally one of thousands of people walking down the street, as if an NFL football game had just ended to both my east and west, whom do you suppose I walked right into, but the one man, whom, IF things had fallen differently, might've played a much larger role that tragic day, and be a name that most of you would know now?

(As I walked and walked, it was while listening on my Sony AM/FM/TV portable radio, via ABC News' Good Morning America -the same program that had informed my entire floor for 90 minutes after we gathered en masse around my radio with the great sound quality that also allowed us to listen to VHF TV signals in our floor lobby area, maybe 60 of us- that I first learned that some of the planes involved in the attacks had left out of Boston's Logan Airport.
That news made my heart sink, and made the already-long walk home seem far longer than it normally would, since one of my recent former housemates in Arlington, Jennifer Dugan, a wonderfully sweet, thoughtful and immensely adorable University of Rhode Island grad, was, in fact, a flight attendant for the then-US Airways, working out of... Logan Airport. I listened to that radio the entire time I walked home, very fearful of what else I would hear.)

That man I'm referring to is George Terwilliger, then of the DC office of McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe LLP, whom I knew from 1627 Eye Street, the home of the New York Times' DC bureau, a place that I spent A LOT of time at over my last 11 years there, which explains why I personally know some of the high-profile people I do, including many Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters and columnists, and DC insiders whose names you would recognize.

Mr. Terwilliger was the man that much of the Washington press corps and Beltway Crowd was reporting was the likely first choice for President George W. Bush to be the new FBI Director, and a person that many of my friends at 1627 had an enormous amount of respect and admiration for, even if they disagreed with him politically. 

When I saw him in passing on the sidewalk near a CVS, with a concerned and pensive look on his face, and he looked at me and shot me a look of recognition, even more than nearly everyone passing us on both sides and spilling out onto the road, all I could think to myself was, "Be careful what you wish for."

As most of you know, President Trump was at the Flight 93 National Memorial 

This is a beautiful but sobering memorial and I urge any of you ever heading across the country to try to see, especially in the Fall. maybe after seeing Gettysburg, another favorite place of mine that never disappoints and always leaves you feeling smaller -and full of gratitude.