Nobody spoke and everybody was immediately very concerned and frightened. We all stood there for another 30 minutes watching the two towers burning, and saw the news footage of President Bush being told by an aid in the grade school classroom about the attack.
While we were watching, we heard a bang outside. Everybody looked at each other, and wondered what had just happened.
There was a "news alert" on the television, and they were reporting from the Pentagon, stating that the Pentagon had just been hit by a plane. We could not believe our ears.
I left the conference room quickly with about three male attorneys, and we quickly made our way around to the side of our building that faced the direction of the Pentagon, just about 2.5 miles away.
We went out onto the balcony, and saw the thick, black smoke rising into the air. I immediately got tears in my eyes and started praying for protection, and for the lives of those who were attempting to rescue and help those who had been injured.
It was a surreal feeling, knowing that I had just been at the Pentagon roughly 75 minutes before on my way to work.
We went back inside to the conference room, which was at this time filled to capacity with people watching the news broadcast. Roughly an hour after the Pentagon was hit, we got word that Washington DC was being evacuated, and our office building was being closed.
I made my way out to the street, with throngs of people making their way to Union Station, because many of the Metro lines had also been closed due to the concerns of further attacks (the 14th street bridge, a main artery into the city, had also been closed). I had to wait for a re-routed Metro train for about an hour and a half, but finally got out of Washington and back to the Springfield Metro station in Northern VA.
I hired a cab with three other people trying to get back to Woodbridge, and was able to get home safely.
I remember watching the news the rest of the day, calling family, crying and praying over the phone, and feeling such a sadness for the victims and their families, and anger at the terrorists. I had a brand new pillar candle that I was saving to burn during the holiday season. I took the candle out and lit it each night for 60 days, as a memorial and to remember 9/11. Each night, as the candle burned, I prayed for the families of the victims, and for President Bush and our national leaders as they made decisions to respond regarding this horrific attack.
May we never forget the infamy of that terrible day. We need to continue to remain vigilant, so a day like 9/11 is not repeated in America.