Seeing 9-11 from History’s Front Row
Guest Post by Cathy Travis
I ran out of the Capitol on 9-11 – with the congressman I worked for – to see the smoke from the Pentagon rising behind the building we worked in.
That day marked a significant moment in our national life. In a country bordered by oceans and friendly countries, suddenly our reality was how very vulnerable we were – and are.
This September marks a decade since that day riveted the nation and the world. This year also saw – finally and thankfully – the killing of Osama bin Laden, the criminal mastermind behind 9-11.
On that fateful day, I worked on Capitol Hill, as a press aide to Congressman Solomon Ortiz (D-TX).
We were in a press conference titled: “Is America prepared for future military threats?”
It’s one of those things you just couldn’t make up.
The irony was quickly overwhelmed by the blinding rage and fear. Suddenly, “target sitting” became synonymous with working at the seat of government.
The anxiety that followed in the next years was part fear and part anger. The anger that came later was associated with the certainty that a first strike in Iraq was bad policy.
To minimize the anxiety associated with target sitting at the U.S. Capitol, I kept a journal, even occasionally sharing entries. Many people found the public entries uplifting, and told me the journal offered heart-pounding context.
It is the story of our times; and offers insight about the life of Capitol Hill staffers in the midst of the fear and uncertainty associated with the terrorist attack of 2001, and all that followed.
That journal is now a digital book titled – what else – “Target Sitting.”
“Target Sitting” is a stark look at life in the target that al Qaeda missed in 2001, and the full body shudder associated with working at the seat of government in the ensuing years.