911

This fire truck, belonging to the Arlington, VA, fire department, had been parked in its designated spot on the west side of the Pentagon. The weapon used on September 11, 2001, impacted the building just next to the engine, and this is the result. Two firemen were on duty; one had just gone inside for a bathroom break, the other saw the weapon approaching and threw himself under the truck. He escaped with burns. Then he ran inside and got his injured colleague outside before the fire established itself.

The Federal government closed off the north-east parking lot of the Pentagon immediately, along with car traffic along Jefferson Davis Highway next to it. For a few days, bike traffic was still allowed. My commute took me past the blocked-off area, designated for debris removed from the burned-out part of the Pentagon. I took the two pictures of the fire-engine, and then a guard turned up and said photographing wasn't allowed. There were no signs saying so, and I thanked him for the information and stowed away my camera. Soon after, the government realized that eliminating car traffic didn't stop people from seeing the debris area. So they banned all traffic there, including bicyclists and pedestrians. It was high time, too, because among the wrecked furniture and the rubble of the destroyed walls there were no airplane parts to be seen. The fewer people taking note of this fact, the better, we must suppose.

The northern end of the closed-off part of the parking lot was reserved for the contractors cleaning up and rebuilding the damaged parts of the Pentagon. So much cellular phone traffic was expected there that one of the carriers put up a cellular antenna tower just for the needs of the crews.

This was the view from the roof terrace of the Lenox Club, the apartment building where we lived at the time of 9/11, on Wednesday, September 12, 2001. The Pentagon is still smouldering. By the weekend, September 15 and 16, they had completed fencing off the damaged side of the Pentagon and finally allowed us locals to come and look. Our pictures from that day are much the same as those published by the media and show nothing out of the ordinary. Note, however, that no news imagery shows any airplane parts in front of the damaged wall of the Pentagon. Two or three pieces of painted aluminum are all the press ever saw there, one recognizable as coming from an American Airlines plane. After other similar crashes, the greatest part of the planes were left in a pile outside of the destroyed buildings. Does speed have such an effect?

Meanwhile, life in the area went on. This is Key Bridge with Rosslyn VA in the background.

The view from the Arlington Cemetery end of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. The white building in the distance is the Defense Intelligence Agency at Bolling Air Force Base on the Maryland side of the Potomac river.

This picture is taken from the middle of Key Bridge, with Georgetown and the K Street bridge on the left and the Watergate complex and the Kennedy Center in the background. Theodore Roosevelt Island is on the right.

Same spot, but looking more south. Rosslyn on the right and Theodore Roosevelt Island on the left. Biking from South Arlington to Key Bridge and back along the other side of the Potomac was a nice piece of exercise on weekends.

A closer view of the K Street Bridge from the DC end of the Key Bridge.

Question: What's missing in this picture? Consider that we're looking at 17th Street NW from the east end of the Reflecting Pool in the Washington Mall. Well, it's the cars. After 9/11, traffic was so severely restricted that there was a moment like this one when the busiest street in DC was stark empty.

Yes, there were some cars. But still, a rare sight.

My messy desk at the Bank. If a messy desk is a sign of a messy mind, then what's an empty desk a sign of?

Way to eliminate the clutter: lift the camera.

Oops, it turned downward again.

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