9/11: Two decades later

It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I was in a hotel having breakfast with members of the Nebraska Farmers Union. We were there to lobby on behalf of rural America at our Nation’s Capital, specifically to have farmers/ranchers obtain a greater share of the food dollar.
This was my fifth trip to Washington, DC for this purpose. Our group of 11 from Nebraska were there to give farmers a seat at the policy table.
The person beside me at breakfast was watching the news. He says to me, “One of the towers is on fire.” He was referencing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. That was about 8:30 am. Just then we watched as the second airplane slammed into the other tower.
People in that hotel deli were going crazy.
We had to be at the Russell Senate Office Building, near the U.S. Capitol, in five minutes. This building is about a mile from the Pentagon.
We hailed a cab and took off. Just then I saw a huge plume of smoke which is very unusual for DC. We arrived at the Russell building and ‘you-know-what’ hit the fan. I smelled the smoke. My first thought was that it was some kind of chemical.
Then the Farmers Union president yelled, “Jerry, get back in the cab” and I did.
There were police blowing whistles, evacuating buildings, and telling people to run. People were flooding out of these buildings with great fear on their faces and screaming, “Where do I run to?”.
It was sheer chaos. Both marked and unmarked cars with sirens and lights flashing were going across lawns and bushes. It took one and a half hours to get back to what would normally be a five-minute ride to our hotel. We were locked down for 48 hours. To read the complete story turn to this weeks Elgin Review.