Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001

This morning, listening to the various recollections of 9/11 on the radio, I couldn’t help but recall my own experience eight years when the world suddenly went still. Like many, I vividly remember where I was and how I first heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. I was at the Riverside coffee shop on Dobbin Road having just finished a conference call with the real estate folks at BB&T. My colleague Rob Freedman called me with the news. I initially dismissed it as being not that big of a deal.

No sooner had I arrived at our offices by BWI airport than the second plane hit. It was now apparent that this was in fact a very big deal. We soon closed up the office and headed over to Jilly’s (now Dave & Busters) at Arundel Mills to watch was happening on their big TV’s. The restaurant was full of business people and more than a few pilots and flight attendants from the airport which by now was shut down. Rumor started going around that they were shutting down I-95 so I decided to head home to Columbia before it was too late.

Arriving back at my Vantage Point neighborhood, I soon became restless and wanted to do something, anything besides watching the repeated images of the crashing planes. I decided to head over to the Red Cross office in Town Center to donate blood. I soon discovered that many of my neighbors had the same thought. By 2:00 PM, the line to give blood snaked from the office entrance all the way down to Little Patuxent Parkway. Still more people were camped out around the building. It was as if people just wanted to be around other people. They stayed there into the evening. The Red Cross personnel and a local realtor set up a TV outside the offices so that everyone who was still there could watch President Bush address the country that evening.

In that moment of tragedy there was something very reassuring about our community and its response. Based on my own personal experience, I wrote this column for October 2001 issue of the Business Monthly.