The Day It All Went Crazy

It’s impossible for much of anyone in America to observe the passing of another 9/11 anniversary without thinking of where they were when the unimaginable happened, and of the reminiscences of others much closer to the danger. Today Digby posted an excerpt from an article by a World Trade Center survivor that is harrowing in the extreme.

I wasn’t in any danger, but was closer to the nightmare than many: in Washington, a few blocks from the Capitol. I was watching TV in a colleague’s office when the second plane hit and we all instantly understood we weren’t dealing with an accident or a stunt gone wrong. Moments later another colleague called in from I-395, where she had witnessed from her car the plane hitting the Pentagon. We could clearly see the smoke rising across the Potomac. There were constant false alarms about bombs being left at the State Department or the White House. At one point I walked outside and found myself in the midst of dozens of people who just stood there staring at the Capitol dome, such an obvious target (and perhaps the actual target of the plane downed in Pennsylvania), with Congress in session, though soon Members and staff came pouring down the street on foot.

For months afterwards the first thing many Washingtonians were aware of each morning was the drone of patrolling aircraft. I eventually left the Emerald City for personal and professional reasons, but I have to admit I soon noticed the absence of a small lingering fear of dirty bombs or chemical weapons. It’s obviously taken even longer for Americans to overcome a great deal of the Politics of Fear used to exploit 9/11, but it all kind of comes rushing back at least once a year.

Feel free to post any of your own 9/11 reminiscences in the comment thread. And if you are inclined, say a prayer for survivors and the families and friends of those who, in the words of the 9/11-influenced Sleater-Kinney song below, “didn’t make it.”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.