I was able to get to the roof of the Archive Center and could see the smoke rising from the city skyline some thirty five miles to the south. I was finally able to reach my girlfriend (now Mrs. BA) who had a dentist appointment (which I hadn't remembered, I only knew that she worked across the street from the White House). I left for home about 2:00pm and as I traveled south, fighter jets crisscrossed the sky above me - I crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge as policeman waived me through the toll barriers. As I looked over to the city, the smoke hanging over lower Manhattan was immense. I drove east on the Long Island Expressway as trucks and emergency equipment passed me heading west into the city.
Upon getting home I was able to talk with my parents, who had been flying that day - they were in Texas - but they were taken off the plane, shortly after the planes struck their targets and the decision was made to close the airspace over the United States. (If you're in the DC area, I highly recommend that you go to Ford's Theatre to see "Come From Away" about the planes from Europe that were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland.)
I went to church that evening as many Americans did. As the scope of the tragedy unfolded and the tremendous loss of life became evident - I stayed home the next day - there wasn't anyway for me to get to work anyway - and I was able to reflect on how much had changed for each and everyone of us.
I traveled to Ground Zero not long after - when the debris still burned and participated in a candlelight vigil. Just last year, I finally made it to the Memorial in the plaza and was deeply moved - much as I knew I would be. Today, I spent most of the day reflecting on what happened fifteen years ago - I watched some of the coverage of the events in New York City today - I watched some of the documentaries that have been produced about that dark day. We went to church, as we do almost every Sunday and we closed with the hymn, Let There Be Peace on Earth. Yes, please, let's try that.